This information is for people who live in Northern Ireland. If you live in Great Britain, visit Maternity Allowance on GOV.UK
You might 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’s due - the amount of Maternity Allowance you get depends on how much Class 2 National Insurance you’ve paid
- you have 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) 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 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 haven’t paid enough Class 2 National Insurance
The Department for Communities will check if you’ve paid enough Class 2 National Insurance to qualify for Maternity Allowance when you make your claim.
If you haven’t (for example, because you’re self-employed and haven’t filed your Self Assessment tax return yet), they will write to you to let you know.
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
The amount you can get depends on your eligibility.
You could get either:
- £140.98 a week or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for up to 39 weeks
- £27 a week for up to 14 weeks
You can claim Maternity Allowance once you’ve been pregnant for 26 weeks. Payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due.
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
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 as soon as you've been pregnant for 26 weeks.
To get a MA1 claim form, call the Department for Communities.
Or download, print the form and send it to the address on the form. You must use the correct postage - a first class stamp is not enough.
You'll need to provide:
- proof of your income for example original payslips, Small Earnings Exception certificate (if applicable for the 2014 to 2015 tax year)
- 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
When you’ll hear about your claim
You should get a decision on your claim within 24 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.
How you’re paid
All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into an account, such as a bank account.
Maternity Allowance is paid every two or four weeks.
If your circumstances change
It's important you tell the Maternity Allowance branch if your circumstances change as this can effect 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 unhappy with the outcome, you can appeal.