Maternity Allowance: what you need to do to claim if you are self-employed or otherwise ineligible for Statutory Maternity Pay
Maternity Allowance is a government payment available to pregnant women who do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay. That is to say, those who are self-employed, those who have not worked for their employer long enough to qualify, or those in employment who earn less than an average of £109 per week. Please note: any figures quoted in this article are calculated for the tax year 2013/2014.
How much is the Maternity Allowance?
The allowance is based on how much you earn; you will either receive 90% of your average weekly gross earnings or a maximum of £136.78 – whichever figure is lower.
Payments will be made every two or four weeks, for up to 39 weeks and, like all other benefits and allowances, will be deposited into an account.
Maternity Allowance is also tax free, and you will generally continue to receive the National Insurance credits necessary for the accrual of a State Pension entitlement.
You can claim Maternity Allowance after your 26th week of pregnancy and payments can start 11 weeks prior to your due date.
How do I claim?
You can either download a form from the government website or contact your local Job Centre Plus or, if you are in Northern Ireland, the Social Security Agency.
The claim form will come with supplementary notes to help you to fill it in along with the details of which address to send it to. Alternatively, there is an interactive version that can be filled in on a computer.
You will need to provide proof of income (i.e. your original pay slips or, if applicable, a Small Earnings Exemption certificate), a letter from a doctor or midwife documenting the baby’s due date and – if you were refused Statutory Maternity Pay – an SMP1 form.
How do I know if I’m eligible?
Although you may be eligible if you have only recently left a job, the allowance is not available to those who do not work, or those earning less than £30 a week. Otherwise, you may be eligible for Maternity Allowance if:
You have been employed for at least 26 of the 66 weeks prior to the baby’s due date (meaning that those who have only recently ceased employment may still be entitled)
You have been self-employed for at least 26 of the 66 weeks prior to the baby’s due date
You’re self-employed and have been paying Class 2 National Insurance contributions
You’re self-employed and have a Small Earnings Exception certificate
You have been earning at least £30 a week over any 13 week period
You are employed, but are ineligible for Statutory Maternity Pay
Can I appeal a decision?
You can appeal a Maternity Allowance decision, but you may still be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance. In such circumstances there is no additional application to be made as the Jobcentre Plus or Jobs and Benefits Office will check automatically.
Impact on other benefits
Maternity Allowance will not affect Tax Credits, but it will have an impact on Council Tax Reduction, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Carer’s Allowance, Bereavement Benefits and Job Seeker’s Allowance – the latter of which will be stopped if you receive the Maternity Allowance – as the benefit cap will limit any collective financial support received.
It is also important to remember that lodging a claim more than three months after the date that the allowance was due to start (i.e. at the start of the 11th week before the baby is due) may incur a reduced payment amount.
Visit this site for more information on Maternity Allowance, and everything you need to know.