If your baby has died shortly after birth

If your baby has died shortly after birth, many bereaved families face financial strain on top of their grief. It’s important to know what you’re entitled to and who to talk to.

What benefits and entitlements could you claim?

If your baby dies within four weeks of being born, you’re entitled to financial help.

You will need to tell a few key people what’s happened.

The best way to do this is usually to phone or, where possible, email.

If you don’t feel able to phone, you might be able to get a relative or close friend to make some of the calls for you.

Maternity pay and leave

You’re entitled to a total of 52 weeks leave.

You can’t get this if you have a child through surrogacy, but you might be able to take unpaid parental leave.

You might be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay while you’re off work for a maximum of 39 weeks (providing you’ve been working for long enough).

You must make your claim within 28 days of your baby’s death.

Talk to your employer about what they can offer you or check your contract of employment.

A lot of employers offer compassionate leave to bereaved parents as part of their basic contract of employment or employee benefits.

Maternity Allowance

If you’re self-employed or haven’t been with your employer for long enough to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, you might be eligible for Maternity Allowance.

This is paid by the government rather than your employer.

If you can’t get Maternity Allowance, you might be able to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

To claim Maternity Allowance, Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance, contact your Jobcentre Plus or, if you live in Northern Ireland, your Jobs and Benefits Office.

Child Benefit

You will get full Child Benefit for the period from the birth until eight weeks after your baby died.

If you’ve already made a claim for Child Benefit, you’ll need to tell the Child Benefit Office (0300 200 3100) that your baby has died.

If you haven’t made a claim yet, you must do so within three months of the birth of your baby to get the full amount.

Find out more about Child Benefit if a child dies on the GOV.UK website.

Child Tax Credit

You might also be able to claim tax credits until eight weeks after your baby died.

If you haven’t made a claim, you should do so within one month.

If you’re already receiving tax credits for your baby, you need to tell the Tax Credits Office (0345 300 3900) within one month of your loss.

Find out more about Child Tax Credit.

Sure Start Maternity Grant

If you’re on a low income and receiving a qualifying benefit (such as Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, or Universal Credit), your right to claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant isn’t affected.

You must claim the grant within 11 weeks of the baby’s due date or within three months after the baby’s birth.

To claim the Sure Start Maternity Grant:

Other benefits and entitlements

You’re entitled to free prescriptions for at least 12 months In England (in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland prescriptions are free for everyone). You’re also entitled to free NHS dental treatment until the certificate expires. Ask your doctor or midwife for form FW8, which you fill in and they sign and send off for you.

You’ll receive your exemption certificate in the post.

They can also help you with the Healthy Start programme if you’ve been claiming vouchers.

You won’t get any more vouchers but you can use any you’ve already received.

Registering your baby

You need to register your baby’s death within five days in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (eight days in Scotland), by taking the death certificate to the Register of Births and Deaths.

You can register the birth at the same time if you have not already done so. The registrar will give you a form for the funeral director. In most places, you will need to go to your local register office in England and Wales, or your local register office in Scotland, but you might be able to do this at the hospital. In Northern Ireland, you can do it at any District Registrar’s office in Northern Ireland.

The hospital staff will tell you what you need to do and where to go.

Making funeral arrangements

A baby that dies shortly after birth must by law be formally buried or cremated although a funeral is not legally required.

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, your local authority will not charge you fees for a standard burial or cremation of a child.

Other fees, such a funeral director, flowers, coffin and memorial will still need to be paid.

In England, there is also a £300 contribution towards the price of a coffin, casket or shroud. This can be reclaimed by the funeral director, or, if you’re not using one, by yourself.

If you’re not using a funeral director, you can claim for some funeral expenses on Gov.uk.

If you’re on a very low income and getting certain benefits, the Social Fund may be able to help with other funeral expenses.

The stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sandsopens in new window is available if you need practical and emotional support during this time.

The coronavirus outbreak has imposed serious restrictions on funerals, which makes organising a meaningful ceremony seem difficult. You can find out more about what you can do on the Quaker Social Action website.

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