What are Bereavement Benefits?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 31 January 2020
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Bereavement benefits are government or workplace benefits available to a person who has lost a member of her immediate family. This typically includes the deaths of parents, children, and siblings. Some examples of bereavement benefits include paid leave from work, allowances to help cover funeral expenses, and pensions provided to surviving family members of the decedent. The level of benefits available depends on the policies of a given company or nation, and it can be helpful to get familiar with policies before a death occurs, so people know what to expect.

In terms of benefits from the government, some governments offer bereavement benefits in the form of regular payments to surviving spouses and children. These may end upon a remarriage, after a certain period of time, or when children reach adulthood. When the decedent is a member of the military, these benefits may be higher and could include a one-time death payment as compensation if the death occurred during military operations. Funeral benefits are also available to current and former service members in most nations.


Companies may offer their own bereavement benefits. Some offer several days of paid leave along with a flexible leave policy allowing people to use vacation and sick days if they need additional time. Companies may provide pensions to the family members of their employees when they die, depending on the circumstances and the company, and could offer assistance with paying for funerals as well. Some companies may offer bereavement benefits like use of the company's car service or aircraft for people making funeral arrangements.

Company bereavement benefits may only be available to people working at least half time, and it is often necessary to work for a company for a certain period of time before benefits will kick in. People with concerns about the benefits can discuss them with human resources staffers. Many companies are willing to make allowances, if asked, for special circumstances. These could include more time off at half pay or permission to use unpaid leave for a bereavement.

It is important to read documentation about bereavement benefits carefully in order to fully understand them and determine if people need additional coverage like life insurance policies. Many insurance agencies provide options for people concerned about the welfare of family members after they die, including staggered life insurance payments to replace lost income, as well as lump sums to cover immediate expenses following a death, such as hospital bills.



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