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A little sane advice/info please. - Carers UK Forum

A little sane advice/info please.

For anyone who is bereaved or no longer providing care.
I guess I should really start off by saying hello,
I've been lurking about on the boards for some time, though not posted (other than the odd rant on the facebook page)

I'd been caring 24/7 for my wife since 2001, who until she passed yesterday, was confined to a high dependency bed here at home, 100% reliant on assistance in pretty much everything other than breathing.
Between the two of us, out total household income was that given to us by the state, in benefits and it's all about to stop. Though the first 3 years or so I never recieved carers allowance, as I was never aware of it's existence.

So the wife received Income support, SDA (recently replaced by ESA ..support group banding) and DLA (PiP hasn't rolled out in this area yet)
And I receive Carers Allowance.

Once all the paperwork over the next fewdays is done, notifications sent.. all the benefits I'm guessing will cease. The only information on the official gov websites, concerning bereavement, is to notify them. But nothing about what happens next. Poking about here and other places, it's confusing as to how long some of the benefits continue after death ... CA for example I've read stops after 8 weeks,
is it the same for the other benefits? different for each?

I'm sure the government thinks that since I have 15+yrs before retirement i should go straight back into employment. But between you and me, i'm pretty much burnt out, physically and mentally.... the lack of respite over the past 7yrs, and the odd health issue of my own that has had to take the back-seat to my wife's problems...

Hi Ian and welcome to the forum. Sorry to hear of your wife's passing yesterday and very understandable that you are concerned about future entitlements. I don't really know the answers but suggest you drop an email to the Carers UK help and advice line. You could copy and paste most of your forum message to save explaining things again. They will be able to give you some expert advice.
Be kind to yourself and don't think about returning to work right now. It is sensible to do some homework though so when and if you do come up against DWP at some time in the future you know where you stand.

Hello Ian, Welcome. I received Bereavement Allowance for 12 months after my husband died, was paid directly into my bank.
Thank you both . I've copied to an email as per your suggestion Henrietta.

and NanaNana, bereavement allowance was a new one for me, certainly worth exploring after I get the next week or two out of the way.
sincere condolences on your sad loss,
bigbear x
It's sad, but the most coherent advice I've managed to obtain so far, has been here on these boards, from the Carers UK advice line via email, the registrar of Deaths, and the funeral directors. The advice on the official GOV websites has been nothing but useless, incomplete or missing altogether.

Bereavment allownace is out due to the wife never having made NI contributions, The CA at least will continue for a couple of months. SDA/IS (under the umbrella of ESA) stops immediatley, along with the DLA .. which is fair enough I guess. So I either go straight back to work, or look for work and go the JSA route, or go down the IS route and see if I can get signed off sick while I get my head back straight.

Annoying to think my health wouldn't be in the state it is, physically and mentally if every request for anyform of respite, day care/home 'sitter' hadn't been refused/ignored the past 12+yrs.

but look on the bright side I guess, I no longer have to continue my 8mnth battle to get the carers assesment now ... I know I sound bitter .. but 8mnths of screaming for an assesment, yet the day she dies they are straight on the phone trying to arrange a time to collect all the medical equipment we had.... <insert expletive>
Update on how things have or haven't gone well so far, and maybe a little advice for people in the same boat in the future,

The best bit of advice received so far, was by accident, choosing the wrong option on the Carers Allowance benefit advice line.. I chose the report a death option , rather than the change of circumstance ( infact the recorded message trys to tell you to hang up and do it online..
The option put me through to the non benefit specific bereavment advice line. Helpful chap.
He advised which department I needed to talk to, and more importantly, in which order to talk to them, as each different benefit office will require info you glean from another ...(and the chap himself said, never make the assumption that the talk to each other, treat them as separate entities)

Advice went as follows. (bearing in mind this is relevant to the death of a spouse, and may differ if it's for a different relative etc)
Phone back the CA number, wait for all options and then hold on till a real person answers.
They will tell you the date upon which the CA will continue until .. up-to 8 weeks after the death of the person your caring for depending on their criteria ... what that is I have no idea)

Once you have this date, you can phone the Income support dept, and claim IS for those 8 weeks. (the IS office is a 0800 number so is free) They will then submit a new claim to you for IS there and then over the phone, rather than online or via post.

They will then advise 1 of 2 options .. the jobcentre for JSA or ESA if like me your not ready to get back straight to 'employment'
They will transfer you to the next department, saving you from having to make a seperate call at local rates to the ESA or JSA depts. and will brief the person they are handing you over to of your situation before passing the call to you. (in fact the call handler advised me strongly to NOT deal with the JSA people at all, in her words ''all they are instructed to do is dissuade you from claiming benefits and to focus on looking for work, and they won't recognise 16yrs of 24/7 unpaid care as work, and will treat you as long-term unemployed''

Stock up on coffee/tea and biscuits, this call will be long (took me 1hr45mins .. though she was quite a chatty young lady)
They will then fill out all of the paperwork for you, explaining what answers the questions are really asking for... and will immediately submit the claim there and then , while you are on the phone. Again, no forms in the post etc.
These questions will flag up on their system your eligibility to claim either the Bereavement allowance (widows pension) or the Bereavement one off benefit. This will require you to make anther call .... and again, this is all done over the phone.

I was dreading making any calls to any of the benefit agencies, after years of un-empathetic automatons, who seemed to be in a 'put up as many obstacles as possible to incite you to loose it so they can cut you off'' when trying to sort out the wifes SDA DLA IS and more recently ESA ... going via the bereavement line first, then the CA .. the attitude of those then handling the subsequent calls, when you can quote the info given to you from the Bereavement line and CA is surprisingly different, to how they have dealt with us while in the caring roll.

Dealing with the Local authorities however ... not so smooth.

Council tax benefit .. (luckily I never had housing benefit)
I hope different authorities operate in different ways, and not as badly as my local authority.
They won't backdate anything, so if you have a change of circumstance, be warned, it's dated from when the receive any completed application. A tad annoying considering it took 4 days to get a cause of death cert, another day to get the death cert, you can't even begin to make any claims for change of circumstance for a week or so without these documents. And you have to get in place new claims for all of the above benefits first .... it's impossible to actually legally make the changes they require until a couple of weeks after the circumstances change ... and they don't backdate ......or do it over the phone, you must wait for them to post the forms to you, fill them out, and they date from the day they receive the completed forms back .. Oh yeah, your expected to do all of this while running around stressed to the eyeballs trying to arrange a funeral,( i made the decision to finish caring for the wife by sorting her funeral, have her finally laid to rest, before embarking on all of the above) ....so I shall be camping on my local authorities doorstep tomorrow morning, form in hand, a flask of coffee and a little pent up anger till they come to their senses and backdate it ..

I advise strongly against making any of these applications online using the .gov.uk online benefit services. The questions are black and white, no wiggle room, and the questions don't convey very well what answer they are really looking for. I did a couple of 'dry runs', and every-time the online claim system decided I wasn't eligible for anything.. Via the phone, the call handler was able to translate my answers into answers that are acceptable to their claim system, resulting in meeting the criteria. Try and ignore the years of distrust and layers of cynicism built up dealing with these faceless agencies, and avoid going the automated online route to spare the usual stress they seem to generate, psyche yourself up and deal with them over the phone, the end result made it worthwhile
Hi Ian
Thank you very much for taking the time to share your advice with others.
There sounds some very useful tips in there and am thinking it would be a good idea to incorporate it in the Condolences section of the forum where those recently bereaved are most likely to be viewing. I'm not sure if moderators could highlight it in some way, or whether you would be happy to copy and paste the last part as a new thread?
You may be right Henrietta. I think it was the descriptions under the forum headings that shaped my decision to post here rather than the Condolences section (i squirm a bit when i poke my head in there).. I ummed and ahhh'd a wee while. I think if a mod could link it would be probably a good solution, rather than repeating the same thing in two places (plus this section is public, and there are probably many readers, like me, who read the public sections for months before actually taking the leap to register)
Hi Ian,
Rather than go back to work, you may wish to consider retraining in a field that interests you, and going / going back to college to study is less stressful and demanding than going right back to work.
Alternatively - some jobs are more demanding than others - I found full time public sector management work very stressful and took early retirement ten years ago. I tried self employment, and it was OK for a while. I am now lucky to work part time in a field that I find interesting, as a social research interviewer, which pays me a decent enough wage, and enables me to work from home at times that suit me.