The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. General information about bereavement payments


This topic explains the following:

  • an overview of when bereavement payments apply
  • payment of amounts owing to recipients at the date of death, and
  • bereavement payments to survivor in prison.


Each part in SSAct Chapter 2 includes a division about the application of the bereavement provisions to a specific payment.

SSAct Chapter 2 Pensions, benefits and allowances:

  • Part 2.2 Age pension - Division 9—Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.3 Disability support pension - Division 10—Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.5 Carer payment - Division 9—Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.10 Parenting payment - Division 9—Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.11 Youth allowance - Division 10—Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.11A Austudy payment - Division 10—Bereavement payments on death of partner
  • Part 2.12 Jobseeker payment - Division 9—Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.15 Special benefit - Division 9—Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.16 Special needs pensions - Division 10—Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.19 Carer allowance - Division 10—Bereavement payments (death of disabled child or adult)
  • Part 2.20 Double orphan pension - Division 10—Bereavement payments (death of DOP child)

Act reference: SSAct Chapter 2 Pensions, benefits and allowances

Overview of bereavement payments

Bereavement payments are made as a temporary continuation of a person's income support payment or as a lump sum payment.

Bereavement payments may include:

  • payment up until the end of the entitlement period in which the person dies (MAY be paid to the estate of a single pensioner)
  • payment of a lump sum (MAY be paid to a surviving partner, carer of a dependent child or carer of an adult or child with disability or medical condition)
  • entitlement to keep instalments paid during the bereavement period (MAY be paid to a surviving partner, carer of a dependent child or carer of an adult or child with disability or medical condition)
  • assessment of the new single rate, if applicable, on the death of partner
  • continuation of entitlement during bereavement period.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.5 Bereavement payment provisions

Amounts owed at date of death

Income support recipients may have accrued some pension or benefit that is unpaid at the date of their death, or which would have been payable if they had not died. Any amounts like this can be paid to an appropriate person.

Example: An appropriate person can be the next of kin, solicitor or executor handling the estate, or the person who has paid or is liable to pay the funeral expenses.

A person seeking to be paid any residual pension or benefit must apply for the payment. The application must be made within 6 months of the recipient's death, except in special circumstances. Delegates have the discretion to determine what constitutes special circumstances, but the reasons for the delay in claiming would generally need to be unusual, uncommon or abnormal in the particular circumstances of the case.

This is quite separate to situations where Services Australia simultaneously learns of the death of BOTH members of a couple. In such a case a lump sum may be payable to an appropriate person without the need for a claim.

If a person lodges a claim for an income support payment but dies before payment is granted, the person may be regarded as a recipient of that payment provided they were qualified to receive the payment and would have received it if they had not died.

Policy reference: SS Guide Both members of couple die during bereavement period

Bereavement payments to survivor in prison

Under section 1158 of the SSAct, bereavement payments are not payable while a person is in prison or undergoing psychiatric confinement because they have been charged with a crime.

IF the person in prison or psychiatric confinement has a partner or dependent child who is reliant on their income then the social security payments MAY be redirected to the partner or child. Redirection of the social security payments may be required as a last resort if no other suitable payment can be identified for the partner and child.

Act reference: SSAct section 1158 Some social security payments not payable during period in gaol or in psychiatric confinement following criminal charge, section 1159 Payment may be redirected to dependent partner or child

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