Maternity Allowance

Maternity Allowance is usually paid if you don't qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay. 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.

This information is for people in Northern Ireland. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, visit GOV.UK.

Eligibility

You could get Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks if one of the following applies:

  • you're employed but you can’t get Statutory Maternity Pay
  • you’re self-employed and pay Class 2 National Insurance (including Voluntary National Insurance) for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby is due - the amount you'll get depends on if you have paid more than 13 Class 2 National Insurance contributions
  • you have recently stopped working 

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

  • employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks
  • earning, or classed as earning, at least £30 a week over any 13 week period – 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 unemployment.

Use the maternity entitlement calculator to check your eligibility.

Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks

You could 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 is unpaid
  • your spouse or civil partner is registered as self-employed with HMRC and has paid at least 26 Class 2 National Insurance contributions in the 'test period'
  • you’re not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay or the higher amount of Maternity Allowance for the same pregnancy

If you haven’t paid enough Class 2 National Insurance

When you make your claim, you will be told if you haven’t paid enough Class 2 National Insurance, for example, because you’re self-employed and haven’t filed your Self Assessment tax return.

HMRC will then contact you to tell you how to make an early payment.

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

What you’ll get

You could get either:

  • £146.68 a week or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for up to 39 weeks
  • £30 a week for up to 14 weeks

Payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due.

Use the maternity entitlement calculator to check your eligibility.

Effect on benefits and Tax Credits

Maternity Allowance won’t affect your Tax Credits but it can affect the following:

  • 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

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

How to claim

You can claim Maternity Allowance when you've been pregnant for 26 weeks.

    Download and complete a Maternity Allowance MA1 claim form. You can also ask for a MA1 claim form from the Department for Communities.

    You'll need to provide:

    • proof of your income for example original payslips
    • proof of the baby’s due date on your MATB1 certificate - if this isn't available, you can provide a letter from your doctor or midwife
    • your SMP1 form but only if you were refused Statutory Maternity Pay by your employer
    • information about your partner’s self-employed business and your role in it, if you are applying for Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks
    • a birth certificate, if you are claiming after the baby is born and the date of birth is not on the MATB1
    • a certificate of stillbirth if the baby is stillborn
    • your marriage certificate if you are involved in your spouse’s or civil partner’s self-employed business

    When you’ll hear about your claim

    The average time for deciding a claim is 35 working days.

    If you’re eligible, you'll receive a form confirming your entitlement and asking you to confirm your last day of employment before your maternity leave began.

    Contact details

    For more information, contact the Department for Communities - Maternity Allowance or your local Jobs and Benefits office.

    How you’re paid

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

    Maternity Allowance is paid either every two or four weeks.

    SMS messages

    When claiming Maternity Allowance you may receive text messages (SMS) from the Department for Communities (DfC). They will always be clearly marked as DfC and will never ask you to give, or click a link to give, personal information or financial details by message or email.

    If you’re concerned or unsure about any text messages (SMS) you receive from about Maternity Allowance you should contact Department for Communities - Maternity Allowance directly. If you suspect you have received a fraudulent message as a scam, please contact Department for Communities - Maternity Allowance immediately.

    • Further information is available at: scamwiseni

    If your circumstances change

    It's important you tell the Maternity Allowance branch if your circumstances change as this can affect how much you get, for example, if you go back to work.

    How to appeal

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

    If you're still not satisfied with the outcome, you can appeal.

    More useful links

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