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
If you’re self-employed or haven’t been with your employer for long enough to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, you might qualify 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.
Find out more, and find your nearest Jobcentre Plus, on the GOV.UK website.
If you live in Northern Ireland, find your nearest Jobs & Benefits Office on the nidirect website.
Ask about the Sure Start Maternity Grant too. If you’re on a low income, you should still be qualify.
Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay and Leave
If you’re employed in England, Scotland or Wales you have 56 weeks to take Parental Bereavement Leave or claim Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay through your employer. This starts from the date of the child’s death.
You can take two weeks leave in one block or as two separate blocks of one week.
The 56 weeks are split into two periods:
- from the date of the child’s death or stillbirth to eight weeks after
- nine to 56 weeks after the date of the child’s death or stillbirth.
You must give your employer notice before you take Parental Bereavement Leave.
For more information about eligibility, go to the GOV.UK website.
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 get 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.
In England and Wales, find your nearest register office on the GOV.UK website
In Northern Ireland, you can do it at any District Registrars office. Find your nearest District Registrars office on the nidirect website
Making funeral arrangements
A baby who is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy must by law be formally buried or cremated, although a funeral isn’t legally required.
If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, your local council won’t 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.
If you’re not using a funeral director, you can claim for some funeral expenses on GOV.UK.
In Wales, there’s also a £500 contribution towards the funeral and other related costs such as floral tributes, plaques.
If you’re on a low income and need additional help paying for a funeral, you might be able to get a Funeral Expenses Payment if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
For more information, go to the GOV.UK website or contact your local Jobcentre Plus.
If you live in Northern Ireland, contact your Jobs and Benefits Officeopens in new window.
If you live in Scotland, it’s called the Funeral Support Payment. Find out more on the mygov.scot website.
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.
If you’re on a very low income and getting certain benefits, you might be able to help with other funeral costs.
Sands, a stillbirth and neonatal death charity, offer practical and emotional support.
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