What is Maternity Allowance?

maternity allowance blog header

Maternity Allowance is usually paid to you if you don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay.  The amount you can claim depends on your eligibility.  Maternity Allowance can be claimed as soon as you’ve been pregnant for 26 weeks, and payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due.

What will I receive?

There are 3 tiers to Maternity Allowance, and the amount depends on your eligibility.  You could get either:

  • £172.48 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for 39 weeks
  • £27 a week for 39 weeks
  • £27 a week for 14 weeks

Maternity Allowance is paid every 2 or 4 weeks.

How do I know if I’m eligible to claim?

You can use the Maternity Entitlement Calculator to check your eligibility.

Maternity Allowance for 39 Weeks

You may be able to claim the allowance for 39 weeks if one of the following applies:

  • you’re employed, but you can’t claim Statutory Maternity Pay
  • you’re self employed and pay Class 2 National Insurance
  • you’ve recently stopped working

In the 66 weeks before your baby’s due, you must also have been:

  • employed or self employed for at least 26 weeks
  • earning (or classed as earning) £30 a week or more in at least 13 of those weeks – the weeks don’t have to be together.

You may still qualify if you’ve recently stopped working.  It doesn’t matter if you had different jobs or periods of employment

If you’re self employed, to get the full amount of Maternity Allowance you must have paid Class 2 National Insurance for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby’s due.  The Department for Work and Pensions will check if you’ve paid enough when you make your claim.  They’ll write to you if you haven’t.  If you haven’t you’ll get £27 a week for 39 weeks.  You still need to meet all the other eligibility criteria to get this amount.  You may be able to get the full rate by making early National Insurance payments – HMRC will send you a letter to tell you how.

Maternity Allowance for 14 Weeks

You may be able to claim the allowance for 14 weeks of for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due:

  • you’re married or in a civil partnership
  • you’re not employed or self employed
  • you take part in the business of your self employed spouse or civil partner
  • the work you do is for the business and unpaid
  • your spouse or civil partner is registered as self employed with HMRC and pays Class 2 National Insurance
  • you’re not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay or the higher amount of Maternity Allowance

Will it impact my other benefits?

Maternity Allowance won’t affect your tax credits, but it will affect how much you get for:

  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Housing Benefit
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) – this will stop if you claim Maternity Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most people aged 16 – 64 can get.  Some individual benefits aren’t affected, but it may affect the total amount of benefit you get.

What if I lose my baby?

You may still qualify if the baby is either:

  • stillborn from the start of the 24th week of pregnancy
  • born alive at any point during the pregnancy

How do I claim?

To make a claim you will need to complete the MA1 Claim Form.  You can either print the form and fill it in, or fill it in online and print it.  The form has notes to help you fill it in.  You will then need to send the completed form to the address shown on the form.  If you are unable to print the form contact your local Jobcentre Plus and ask for one to be sent to you.  You will need to include the following with your form:

  • proof of your income, such as original payslips, copies of tax returns etc
  • proof of the baby’s due date, such as a letter from your doctor or midwife, or your MATB1 certificate
  • your SMP1 form if you were refused Statutory Maternity Pay by your employer
  • you will also need to give more information about your partner’s self employed business and what you do if your applying for the 14 weeks Maternity Allowance.

You should get a decision on your claim within 14 working days.  If you’re eligible, a form will be sent to you confirming your entitlement and asking you to confirm your last day of employment before leave.

What if my circumstances change?

Report any changes in your circumstances to your local Jobcentre Plus as they can affect how much you get, i.e. if you go back to work

Source: www.gov.uk