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9 Welfare benefits

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1. Introduction

2. If you have a low income

3. If you are having a baby or adopting a child

If you have a job, you may get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) from your employer. These benefits are the minimum amount that an employer has to pay you while you are off work having a baby or when you have just adopted a child. Whether you can get these benefits depends on how much you earn and how long you have been working. You can claim SMP or SAP for up to 26 weeks. If you do not qualify for SMP, you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance instead from the Department for Work and Pensions.

You may be able to claim Statutory Paternity Pay for up to two weeks' paternity leave if:

  • you are the father of a new baby and you will have some responsibility for the raising of the child; or
  • your partner (including a same-sex partner) has recently given birth or adopted a baby, and you will both be responsible for raising the child.

Your entitlement to Statutory Paternity Pay depends on:

  • your earnings; and
  • how long you have been working.

If you are not the biological father of the child, you can get Statutory Paternity Pay only if you live with the mother or adopter and the child.

For more information about what you may be able to receive from your employer if you are having a baby or adopting, see the CLS Direct leaflet, ‘Employment’.

Pregnant women can get free prescriptions and dental treatment. If you are on a low income and getting certain benefits or tax credits, you may also qualify for a lump-sum (one-off) payment called a Sure Start Maternity Grant. You must claim this within three months of your child being born, though you can claim before you give birth.

4. If you have children to look after

5. If you are unemployed

6. If you are ill and can't work

7. If you have a disability

8. If you are just starting work

9. If you have retired or are about to retire

10. If your husband, wife or civil partner dies

11. Where do I claim?

12. What must I do when I claim?

13. What if I disagree with a decision about my claim?

14. What if I've been badly treated?

15. The Human Rights Act

16. Further help

17. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Rachel Hadwen, a specialist in welfare rights.

Leaflet Version: April 2019

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