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Posthumous Welfare Benefits

1. Post mortems and asbestos related diseases

Any Medical Practitioner who signs a Death Certificate is required to consider whether the death might have been caused or contributed to by employment pursued by the deceased. This also applies to any person who might have died whilst serving in HM Forces.

If the Medical Practitioner considers that the deceased’s exposure to asbestos caused or contributed to the death, the Medical Practitioner is required to report the death to HM Coroner, even if it later proves to be the case that the person died from some other cause. In Scotland the Procurator Fiscal has the power to Order a post mortem and hold a Public Inquiry, but is not required by law to do so, as in England and Wales.

2. Posthumous claims to the DWP for Industrial Disablement Benefit and other benefits.

If there is a post mortem a Pathologist will be asked to express his opinion as to the cause of death. The Pathologist can find that the death was caused or contributed to by the deceased’s exposure to asbestos, even if such a diagnosis was not made whilst the person was alive. If this occurs and Industrial Disablement Benefits were not paid whilst the person was alive, benefits may be claimed posthumously by the next of kin or executors for the estate of the deceased.

Industrial Injury Benefits should be paid even if the deceased was self-employed, unemployed or retired, provided that, at some time, they were employed and exposed to asbestos in that employment. It is not necessary to prove that the deceased handled asbestos themselves or that the deceased’s employers were negligent.

Application should be made in writing to the local Jobcentre Plus. Ensure that a copy of the Death Certificate is enclosed with the application. If a Death Certificate is not yet available because any inquest is yet to be heard, ensure that this is stated. Benefits should be paid for the last three months of the life of the deceased. You have twelve months from death to be appointed to act for the deceased and claim.

If the exposure to asbestos occurred only whilst in service with HM Forces a War Disablement Pension should be applied for. However, if the exposure was both during service with HM Forces and whilst employed by an employer, it is possible to claim for both Industrial Disablement Benefit and a War Disablement Pension and both claims should then be made.

Prescribed diseases for which claims can be made.

If a Doctor asks if a patient worked with asbestos, or mentions any of the illnesses listed below, but does not advise the Coroner, the next of kin or executor should notify the Coroner themselves. The diseases are as follows:

Asbestosis (D1)
Diffuse mesothelioma of the pleura or peritoneum (D3)
Diffuse pleural thickening (D9) but not if the employment was only before July 1948.
Lung Cancer (D8)

3. Industrial death benefit

This was abolished in April 1988 but a single amount of up to £300 may be paid if the exposure to asbestos occurred only before July 1948. You can claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit if you live overseas, providing you were exposed to asbestos during employment in the UK. You can also claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit posthumously on behalf of a relative who had asbestos exposure in the UK. The rules are the same as if you lived in the UK. You should apply to:

Pensions and Overseas Benefits Directorate
IND INJ Room TB014
Tyne View Park
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1BA
Tel: 0191 218 7650

More information…