DWP routinely demands repayment of benefits paid after death – but has no power to do so

This is valuable information from Paul Lewis:

When someone dies, the Department for Work and Pensions routinely sends out [a letter] to relatives demanding they return money which the Department has paid after the person died.

It has no powers to enforce these payments.

The death has to be reported within five days (eight in Scotland) by a relative or someone present at the death. They are normally asked to use the official service called ‘Tell us Once’ … [and] it still takes a little while to stop state pension and benefit payments. So it is common for one or two payments to be credited after the death to the bank account of the person who has died.

The Department automatically writes to relatives and executors asking them to refund these after death payments… These letters imply that the money has to be repaid.

When asked directly the Department is very clear that it has no power to enforce these repayments. So such letters can safely be ignored. “There is no legal obligation to repay a debt of this type.”

Only one letter seeking to recover this money is sent…“If payment is not received no further action is taken and the debts are automatically written off.”

So the safest thing to do with such a letter is to ignore it.

In 2017/18 the Department sent 392,000 letters to 282,000 people (more than one benefit is often involved). And it recovered £53,295,000 from them even though it has no power to do so and they have no obligation to repay the money.

This lack of recovery powers only applies to payments made after the death.

There are some benefit and pension payments that the DWP does have the power to recover.

It has powers to recover money that has been overpaid in the individual’s lifetime which was not due to official error. Those letters should not be ignored but the money may still not have to be paid.

See the website for the full details: Paul Lewis Money: DWP CANNOT ENFORCE DEMANDS TO REPAY PENSIONS PAID AFTER DEATH

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2 thoughts on “DWP routinely demands repayment of benefits paid after death – but has no power to do so

  1. Dan

    Thanks for flagging this one up, Mike. I lost my dad a while ago and have had a couple of letters like this, I wrote back saying the executors (me, but the DWP don’t know that) were now aware and would deal with the matter “in due course” – I certainly wasn’t going to pay them before I had probate and now won’t pay the barstewards at all.

  2. hugosmum70

    when my ex husband died 5 years ago, my daughter was told by the police who attended as he lived alone some 75 miles away from us, that any debts he had died with him.the bank also told her that and the coroner.she certainly never paid any . you cant get blood out of a stone anyway. and she certainly couldnt have paid any.

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