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:
- £138.18 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 (if your baby is due on or after 27 July 2014)
- Maternity Allowance is paid every 2 or 4 weeks
- you can claim Maternity Allowance once you have been pregnant for 26 weeks
- payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due
How you’re paid
All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into an account, such as a bank account.
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)
Your baby must also be due on or after 27 July 2014.
Participating Spouse Maternity Allowance (PSMA)
PSMA is a tax free and non means tested benefit.
- it is designed specifically to help women who are neither employed nor self-employed but are taking part in the business of their self-employed spouse or civil partner, during their pregnancy and after childbirth
- PSMA is paid for a continuous period up to a maximum of 14 weeks known as the 14 week period
- the claimant must not be entitled to SMP from any employer, or Maternity Allowance, in respect of the same pregnancy
It is payable to women:
- who are the participating spouse or civil partner of a self-employed earner
- whose expected date of childbirth is on or after 27 July 2014
- payment may be made to a ‘participating spouse’ whose expected date of childbirth is on or after 27 July 2014 but, who give birth prematurely on or after 1 April 2014
- PMSA will be paid at the lowest rate currently in payment that is paid to women who hold a Small Earnings Exception (SEE) of £27.00 for a period of 14 weeks
A woman may be able to get Maternity Allowance as a Participating Spouse if, for at least 26 weeks during her test period she:
- is/has been taking part in activities related to the business of her self-employed spouse or civil partner
- for the same 26 weeks she is/was married to or in a civil partnership with the same self-employed spouse or civil partner
- is/was not a partner in or an employee of the business of her self-employed spouse or civil partner, and is/was not employed or self-employed in any other occupation
And, for the same 26 weeks during her test period, her spouse or civil partner must be or have been:
- registered as self employed with HMRC with liability to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions
- working as a self-employed earner in their business
Also, to get PSMA the claimant must not be entitled to or receiving
- Statutory Maternity Pay from a current or former employer for the same pregnancy
- Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks for the same pregnancy
Taking part in activities related to the business means - carrying out the same or ancillary tasks which support the business of the claimant’s self-employed spouse or civil partner.
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 to Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks
For more information contact the Social Security Agency.
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.