After a stillbirth many bereaved families find themselves facing financial strain on top of their grief. It’s important to know what you’re entitled to and who to talk to. This information also applies if you have had a termination for fetal anomaly after 24 completed weeks.
Are you entitled to benefits and entitlements if your baby is stillborn?
If your baby was stillborn after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy, you might be entitled to financial support.
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.
Most employers offer compassionate leave to bereaved mothers and fathers as part of their basic contract of employment or employee benefits.
If you’re not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay
Contact your Jobcentre Plus or Jobs and Benefits Office who can help you make a claim for Maternity Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.
Ask about the Sure Start Maternity Grant too – if you’re on a low income, you should still be eligible.
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
Your baby’s birth must be registered within 42 days in England and Wales, or within 21 days in Scotland. In Northern Ireland, a stillbirth must be registered within one year.
In most places you will need to go to your local register office, but you may be able to do this at the hospital.
The hospital staff will tell you what you need to do and where to go.
Making funeral arrangements
A baby who is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy 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 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 on a low income and getting certain benefits, the Social Fund may be able to help with other funeral expenses.
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