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Am I eligible for Maternity Allowance?

In a nutshell, Maternity Allowance is a benefit paid to women who don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay.

A pregnant woman lies on the grass, holding her belly and looking at the sky.

If you’re self-employed, have only been in your new job for a short while or earn less than the Lower Earnings Limit (£112 a week for tax year 2016-2017) you won’t be able to claim Statutory Maternity Pay. But you might be entitled to Maternity Allowance instead.

Who’s eligible?

You’ll need to have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks of your test period. This test period is essentially the 66 weeks before your due date. Any paid work you’ve done in a week is counted as one full week towards your test period. This is the case even if you only worked for one day during that week. And during your test period you need to have earned at least £30 per week for any 13 weeks during your test period. It’s a good idea to choose your highest earning 13 weeks as these will be used to calculate how much Maternity Allowance you’re entitled to.

How much Maternity Allowance will you get?

How much you’ll get depends on how much you earn. You’ll receive £139.58 from April 2015 or 90% of your average gross weekly earnings (whichever is the lowest) for up to 39 weeks. The average is calculated by adding together your total gross earnings for the 13 weeks of your test period and then dividing the number by 13. Maternity Allowance is tax free and paid every four weeks in arrears.

How do you claim?

You’ll need to get your hands on a form MA1, which you can download from the Gov.uk website here. You can claim for this as soon as you hit your 26th week of pregnancy. Simply fill in the form and submit it to your local Jobcentre Plus. You’ll need to provide evidence of your pregnancy too. This is usually your Maternity Certificate (MAT B1 form), which is given to you by your midwife or doctor at your 21st week appointment.

When will you receive it?

The earliest you can get paid Maternity Allowance is 11 weeks before your baby is due, and the latest is from the day of your baby’s birth. You’ll also need to supply your original pay slips for your test period and any proof of your National Insurance payments or your Small Earnings Exemption Certificate, if you have one.

“Even if you are still working, claim as soon as you can after the 14th week before the week your baby’s due.”

Other useful information

You can find out more information by visiting Gov.uk website. This gives a complete overview of Maternity Allowance eligibility and pay and even has a maternity entitlement calculator. Or you can give the Jobcentre Plus a ring on freephone 0800 055 6688.

Parents can also read our Child Benefits Guide to see if they’re eligible for any extra help.


Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Talking Finance content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.