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. Both members of couple die during bereavement period


This topic explains the bereavement payment provisions in the following circumstances:

  • the surviving member of a couple (1.1.M.120) dies shortly after their partner's death, and
  • advice of the death of both partners is received at the same time.

Note: The provisions in this topic are not applicable to a one-off bereavement payment for the death of a partner ( made under Subdivision AA of Division 10 of Part 2.11 (YA) or Subdivision AA of Division 9 of Part 2.12 (JSP) of the SSAct.


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

Survivor dies shortly after partner's death

If a surviving pensioner (the survivor) dies shortly after receiving a LBP for their partner's death, the survivor is treated as a single pensioner. That is, one further pension instalment is paid to the estate for all the days in the entitlement period for which they die.

If a surviving benefit recipient dies shortly after receiving an LBP for their partner's death, the survivor is treated as a single benefit recipient. This means that no additional instalment is paid, as single benefit recipients are only entitled to payment up to the end of the day immediately before the day on which they die.

The following table explains the other provisions that apply when a survivor dies shortly after their partner's death:

If … then …
there are returned or unclaimed instalments paid to the survivor before their death, AND

the survivor could have accessed those instalments before their death

the estate of the survivor is entitled to claim the instalments.
the first person's death was advised before advice was received of the survivor's death normal bereavement entitlements exist, EVEN IF the first partner's death has not yet been actioned. The estate of the survivor, or any appropriate person may apply to receive the payments that would have been paid to the survivor had they not died.

Advice of both partner's deaths received at the same time

A LBP is payable to any appropriate person without the need to lodge a claim, if:

  • both partner's die together, OR

    • Example: In an accident.
  • both partner's deaths are advised at the same time.
    • Example: If the survivor died 3 weeks after their partner, and both deaths were notified together.

Explanations: 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.

The lump sum is worked out using a different formula to that used in the normal circumstances. The main differences are that the rates to be used are those applying on the EPED AFTER the survivor's death, and the lump sum represents the partner's instalments that would otherwise have been paid between the death of the survivor and the expiry of the original bereavement period.

If the deaths occurred at the same time, the elder partner is deemed under state law to have died first. The younger partner thus becomes the survivor.

Sometimes instalments issued in the name of the first deceased person are returned. If both deaths were advised at the same time, and the instalments were issued before the second person died, any appropriate person is entitled to claim those payments.

If both partners died within 14 weeks AND the deaths were notified at the same time, the single rate is NOT paid in these circumstances even though the second person is technically single. These amounts would normally be payable to the estate of the second person.

Policy reference: SS Guide The lump sum bereavement payment - member of a couple

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