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Maternity Allowance

Maternity Allowance is usually paid to you if you didn’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay. The amount you can get depends on your eligibility. You can claim Maternity Allowance as soon as you have been pregnant for 26 weeks. Payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due.

What you’ll get

The amount you can get depends on your eligibility.

You could get either:

  • £139.58 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for up to 39 weeks
  • £27 a week for up to 14 weeks

Maternity Allowance is paid for up to 39 weeks and is not subject to tax and National Insurance.It is not paid while you are working.

How you’re paid

All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into an account, such as a bank account.

  • Maternity Allowance is paid every 2 or 4 weeks

Effect on benefits or tax credits

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

  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Housing Benefit/Rate Relief
  • Income Support
  • Bereavement benefits
  • Jobseeker's Allowance – this will stop if you get Maternity Allowance


You might get Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks if:

  • you're employed, but you can’t get Statutory Maternity Pay
  • you're self-employed and paying Class 2 National Insurance Contributions
  • you’re self-employed and have a Small Earnings Exception certificate
  • you have recently stopped working

You must also have been:

  • employed and/or self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due
  • earning at least £30 a week over any 13-week period

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

Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks

You might get Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks if 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 should pay Class 2 National Insurance
  • your spouse or civil partner is working as self-employed person
  • you’re not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay or the higher amount of Maternity Allowance (for the same pregnancy)

If you lose the 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 to claim

You can claim Maternity Allowance as soon as you've been pregnant for 26 weeks. To get a claim form (Form MA1) you can call the Social Security Agency on 028 9082 3318 or download one and print it off and send it to the address on the form.

You'll need to provide

  • proof of your income for example original payslips, Small Earnings Exception certificate (if applicable)
  • proof of the baby’s due date such as a letter from the doctor or midwife, or your MATB1 certificate
  • your SMP1 form but only if you were refused Statutory Maternity Pay by your employer
  • you may need to give more information about your partner’s self-employed business and what you do if you are applying for Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks

For more information contact the Social Security Agency.

Important: The date the claim form is received in a Social Security Agency office is the date we can consider payment from - not the date you downloaded the claim form.

What if your circumstances change?

It's important you tell Incapacity Benefits Branch if your circumstances change.

If you do some work for an employer, or as a self-employed person, before your Maternity Allowance is due to end, you will be able to work for up to ten days without losing any Maternity Allowance. If you work for more than ten days, you will lose Maternity Allowance for the days you work after that.

You must tell Incapacity Benefits Branch about any work you do when you are receiving Maternity Allowance.

Changes that don't affect the payment include:

  • going into hospital
  • going into a nursing home or residential care
  • starting voluntary work

How to appeal

If you're refused Maternity Allowance or if you have any queries about your payment, you can ask Incapacity Benefits Branch to look again at their decision.

If you're still unhappy with the outcome, you can appeal.

What else you need to know

Each time you get pregnant you must use the expected week of childbirth of your new pregnancy to work out your allowance for that pregnancy.

National Insurance Credits are available for each complete week (Sunday through to Saturday) within your Maternity Allowance period.

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