When you’re going through a bereavement, or your child is ill, it can affect your child benefit. So, although this may be the last thing on your mind during this time, it’s important to know your rights and rules.
Child Benefit for children in hospital or care
You can tell the Child Benefit Office online or via post if your child has to go into care for more than 8 weeks, or has to go into hospital or ‘residential care’ for more than 12 weeks as this can affect your child benefit payments.
Residential care is accommodation which is paid for by the local council, generally because your child has a physical or mental disability.
If a child goes back into hospital or residential care within 28 days of leaving it, the total time spent away from home will count towards the limit of 12 weeks which is explained below.
After 8 or 12 weeks
After this time limit, usually you are no longer entitled to child benefit. There are certain exceptions to this rule, such as:
- If children in care spend at least 24 hours a week at home.
- For children in a UK hospital or residential care, if you regularly spend money on them, you may still be entitled.
- If your child is in hospital abroad but you’re back in the UK and you regularly spend money on them, you could still be entitled.
It is important to note that your partner paying money towards the child will only count if you are married/civil partnered/living together.
You should check with the Child Benefit office to see if an exemption applies to you.
You may be eligible to claim child benefit again if your child is in care but spends 2 nights in a row each week or 7 days or more in a row at home.
If your child dies
You will usually get child benefit for 8 weeks after a child passes away. If they would have had their 20th birthday before the 8 weeks are up, Child Benefit will stop on the following Monday.
You’ll need to tell the Child Benefit office as soon as possible if a child that you’re claiming benefits for dies. You can do this online, via post or by calling the contact number. You must include the date of death. The office will let other parts of HMRC know, so you only need to get in touch once.
If you haven’t yet claimed
If your child died before you sent a claim form, you can still send one unless your child was stillborn. You should fill out a claim form, attach a note with the date of the child’s death and send the child’s birth or adoption certificate with the form. If your child died before the end of the week that they were born in, the 8 weeks you receive child benefit for will start on the Monday following the death. Child benefit can only be backdated for 3 months, so the longer you leave your claim, the less you’ll get.
If one or both parents die
You might be able to get child benefit if you are the main carer of a child who’s parents have passed away.
You should report the death as soon as possible to the child benefit office, you can do this online. In the information you send, you must include the date of death, where the child is living now and who is looking after them. Once you tell them about the death, the office will stop the payments and write a letter to confirm this.
Payments are not automatically transferred to the new carer if your name isn’t on the original claim form. Instead, you must make a new claim form. Once it has been reported, child benefit can only be backdated for three months. You may be eligible for Guardian’s Allowance or Widowed Parents Allowance on top of child benefit.