If you are pregnant
If you are pregnant, you cannot make any claim for benefits earlier than 11 weeks before the week the baby is due, unless you can claim for some other reason. (Apart from Healthy Start Vouchers – see below). If you are sick and unable to work, see here. If you are unemployed see here, or here if you are 16/17. If you are in further education and have to live away from home, see here.
You may be able to claim Healthy Start Vouchers from week 10 of your pregnancy or while you have a child under 4. These are worth £3.10 pw (or £6.20 for a baby under 12 months) to put towards the cost of fresh or frozen fruit and veg, milk and formula milk. If you are under 18 and pregnant you will be entitled to the vouchers, otherwise it will depend on your income. You can also get free vitamins. Ask your midwife or look at healthystart.nhs.uk to see if you qualify. Ring the helpline for a form or download from the website.
Once you have reached 11 weeks before the baby is due you may be able to claim benefits depending on your circumstances. You will need your MatB1 from your 20 week scan to confirm the date.
If you are pregnant and working
You should be able to claim either Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from your employer, or if not, Maternity Allowance (MA) from Jobcentre Plus, depending on the length of time you have been working and your average earnings. You can wait to claim these right up until the baby is due if you want. SMP and MA can be paid for 39 weeks. The first 6 weeks of SMP may be at a higher rate, but after that, SMP and MA are at a maximum of £140.98 per week – the amount you get will depend on your average earnings:
- SMP is based on the wages you earned roughly from the 22nd week to the 15th week before the week your baby is due, so if you are on a low wage but can increase your earnings in that period for example by doing extra hours, you may be better off later – get advice.
- For MA the 13 weeks where you earned the most, within a 66 week period, will be used to maximise your MA.
In the first instance, apply to your employer for SMP, as they are responsible for working out if you are entitled to it, and paying this to you if you are. Otherwise, claim MA by ringing the Jobcentre Plus new claims helpline or online at www.gov.uk or to print out a form.
If you have a partner, you can claim SMP or MA independent of their earnings. You can also find out about Statutory Paternity Pay.
If you are pregnant and not working
You may be able to claim Maternity Allowance (see above) and/or Income Support. If you have a partner who is working their earnings will affect your Income Support, but not Maternity Allowance.
lone parent rate: £57.90 per week (age 16/17) and £73.10 per week (18+)
Couple rate: both aged 18 or over: £114.85 per week
Once your baby is born, you should be entitled to claim other benefits as well, for example Child Benefit and tax credits.