Don’t be bullied into repaying pension payments

You can ignore demands to repay benefits paid to someone after death

Senior couple discussing paperwork at home

When someone dies, their state pension and other benefits may still be paid for a short period.

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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) routinely writes to relatives asking them to repay payments – which can amount to hundreds of pounds – made after the death.

However, it has no legal right to recover this money and the letters can safely be ignored. When someone dies, their death has to be reported within a few days. It is often the closest relative who does that. Nowadays, in most local authority areas, people can use the Tell Us Once service, which informs all central and local government agencies about the death.

That includes stopping passports, disabled badges, driving licences and council tax. The service is very useful but is usually not acted on quickly enough by the DWP to stop payments of the state pension and other benefits.

The Department routinely writes to the person who registered the death and asks them to repay any excess of benefits such as state pension, attendance allowance or pension credit paid for periods after the death. These amounts are often in the low hundreds of pounds.

The letter uses phrases like “when public funds are incorrectly paid we are obliged to ask for them to be refunded… We recommend you use the Bank Giro Credit slip enclosed”.

Many people take this as an instruction to repay the money. However, the Department has no legal power to recover the money and in any case it should be applying to the executors, not the relative who registered the death.

In some cases, where the deceased was overpaid benefit while they were alive or has a debt due to the DWP, it can recover money that was overpaid during
their lifetime from their estate.

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However, if there is not enough money in the estate the debt must be written off – and even if there is enough, the DWP cannot recover it from relatives who were not executors. For more on this subject, visit paullewismoney.blogspot.com and search “after death”.