HC Deb 14 November 2001 vol 374 c784W
Norman Lamb

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what plans he has better to publicise the time limit for making applications for widows' payments; [10825]

(2) what plans he has for relaxing the time limit for applications for widows' payments in circumstances where the applicant may be unable to make the application within the normal time limit because of ill health; and if he will make a statement. [10827]

Malcolm Wicks

We are sympathetic to the needs of the recently bereaved and understand that making a claim for bereavement benefits will not be the first priority for people in these circumstances. We believe the three month time limit for claiming bereavement benefits strikes the right balance between allowing people time to grieve and setting a reasonable and appropriate limit on the length of time within which a claim to benefit should be made. The three month time limit for making a claim was introduced in 1997 for the majority of Social Security benefits and we have no plans to change it.

Since March 2000 the Department has issued leaflets on the new bereavement benefits to doctors' surgeries, Post Offices and benefit advisers. Articles explaining the new benefits were placed in a variety of magazines prior to their introduction in April 2001. Claim forms for bereavement benefits also include a clear explanation that claims must be made within three months. In addition, the Registrar of Deaths automatically issues a form to the person registering the death which gives them the opportunity to make a claim for bereavement benefits.