Maternity Benefit


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INTERNAL GUIDELINES USED IN PROCESSING CLAIMS

INDEX

PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

  1. Description of Scheme
  2. Information Leaflet
  3. Legislation
  4. Administration
  5. Qualifying Conditions in Summary
  6. Qualifying Conditions in Detail
  7. Father's entitlement to leave
  8. Relevant Income Tax Year
  9. Self-employed
  10. Maternity Benefit and EU Regulations
  11. Premature Births
  12. Stillbirths
  13. Volunteer Development Workers
  14. Disqualifications
  15. Absence from the state
  16. Imprisonment
  17. Rates Structure
  18. Employees
  19. Self-employed
  20. Illness Benefit rate
  21. Overlapping Provisions
  22. Carer's Allowance
  23. Postponement of Maternity Leave and Maternity Benefit

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

  1. Claims
  2. Documentation
  3. Late Claims
  4. Investigation of Claim
  5. Deciding a Claim
  6. Appeals

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

  1. Payments
  2. Taxation
  3. Duration of Payment
  4. Maintenance
  5. Certification of Ongoing Entitlement
  6. Reviews
  7. Suspension of Payment
  8. Credits
  9. Parental Leave

PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

Description of Scheme

Maternity Benefit is a payment made for 26 weeks to employed and self-employed women who satisfy certain PRSI contribution conditions on their own insurance record.

The original scheme was introduced in 1970 and has been extended to include the self-employed from 9th June 1997.

Information Leaflet:

'Maternity Benefit' SW 11

Legislation

The main provisions relating to Maternity Benefit are in the Maternity Protection Acts, 1994 and 2004, Chapter 9 of Part II of Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005, and Chapter 2 of Part II of Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations, 2007 (as amended).

Administration

Maternity Benefit Section in the Department of Social Protection, McCarter's Road,  Buncrana, Co. Donegal deals with the payment of Maternity Benefit.

Qualifying Conditions in Summary

An employee must be in employment which is covered by the Maternity Protection Act, 1994 immediately before the first day of her maternity leave and satisfy certain PRSI contribution conditions.

A self-employed person must be, or have been, self-employed and satisfy certain PRSI contribution conditions.

Qualifying Conditions in Detail

Employees

To qualify for Maternity Benefit, a claimant must -

  • be in employment which is covered by the Maternity Protection Act, 1994, immediately before the first day of her maternity leave. The last day of insurable employment may be within 16 weeks of the end of the week in which her baby is due. (If she ceases employment, her Maternity Leave must commence from the following day) and
  • be certified by her employer as entitled to maternity leave under the Maternity Protection Act, 1994 and
  • have her expected date of confinement certified by a registered medical practitioner and
  • have at least 39 weeks PRSI paid in the 12 months before the first day of her maternity leave
    or
  • at least 39 weeks PRSI paid since first starting work and at least 39 weeks PRSI paid or credited in the Relevant Tax Year or in the year following the Relevant Tax Year
    or
  • at least 26 weeks PRSI paid in the Relevant Tax Year and at least 26 weeks PRSI paid in the Tax Year prior to the Relevant Tax Year

Note: PRSI contributions paid at Classes A, E and H count.
Maternity Benefit is not payable to serving members of the Defence Forces who pay PRSI at Class H.

If a claimant does not satisfy the employee conditions outlined above, and was in insurable self-employment before starting insurable employment as an employee, her Class S PRSI contributions may help her qualify for Maternity Benefit.

Father's entitlement to leave

In the event of the death of the mother within 40 weeks of the birth of a living child, the father has certain leave entitlements. Where it is certified by his employer that a man is entitled to leave under the Maternity Protection Act, then he shall be entitled to benefit similar to if he was a woman who was entitled to maternity leave.

Under the Maternity Protection Act, 1994, the woman must give her employer at least 4 weeks written notice of her intention to take maternity leave. She must also advise her employer 4 weeks in advance of returning to work and confirm this notification (again in writing) 2 weeks before she expects to return.

Relevant Income Tax Year

The relevant income tax year is the second last complete income tax year before the year in which the maternity leave starts. For Example: Claims that start in 2014, the relevant tax year is 2012.

If a tax year later than the relevant income tax year has ended before the start of the maternity leave, reckonable contributions in that tax year may be used to help a claimant qualify.

Self-employed

A self-employed claimant must

  • be self-employed in accordance with the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1993, as amended
    and
  • have 52 qualifying PRSI contributions paid in the Relevant Tax Year
    or
  • have 52 qualifying contributions paid in the Tax Year prior to the Relevant Tax Year
    or
  • have 52 qualifying contributions paid in the Tax Year following to the Relevant Tax Year.
    and
  • have her expected date of confinement certified by a registered medical practitioner.

Note: PRSI paid at Classes A, E, H and S count as qualifying contributions.

If a claimant is now self-employed but was in insurable employment before she became self-employed, her PRSI contributions (Class A, E and H) in that employment may help her qualify for Maternity Benefit if she does not satisfy the self-employment conditions as stated above.

It should be noted that self-employment contributions, i.e. PRSI class S, are not awarded until the total tax liability is paid in full for the Relevant Tax Year.

Maternity Benefit and EU Regulations

If a claimant was previously insurably employed in a country covered by EU Regulations and she has paid at least one full rate PRSI contribution since her return to Ireland, her insurance record (contributions and credits) in that country may be combined with her Irish PRSI contributions to help her qualify for benefit.

Premature Births

If the baby is born prematurely (i.e. before the maternity leave is due to commence), a letter should be forwarded to Maternity Benefit Section from the doctor confirming the baby was born prematurely and on what date.

Stillbirths

In the event of a still birth occurring after the 24th week of pregnancy, the mother is still entitled to 26 weeks Maternity Benefit provided she satisfies the PRSI conditions. A letter from the doctor should be forwarded with the Maternity Benefit application form confirming the expected date of confinement, the actual date of birth and number of weeks gestation.

Volunteer Development Workers

A volunteer development worker is entitled to Maternity Benefit provided that she has qualifying contributions paid in respect of not less than 39 contribution weeks in the period beginning with her entry into insurance and ending immediately before the first day of maternity leave.

A person who ceases to be a volunteer development worker shall be entitled to maternity benefit in respect of any claim made in the benefit year in which she returns to the State from a developing country or in the next succeeding benefit year provided that she has qualifying contributions paid in respect of not less than 39 contribution weeks in the period beginning with her entry into insurance and ending immediately before the first day of maternity leave.

[Volunteer Development Workers are not required to satisfy paragraphs (b) and (c) of Section 37(1)]

Disqualifications

  1. Au EU citizen will be disqualified from receiving Maternity Benefit if during the period for which benefit is payable, she engages in any form of insurable employment or insurable self employment.
  2. A claimant will be disqualified from receiving Maternity Benefit if she fails, without good cause, to attend for or to submit herself to any medical examination that may be required.
  3. Failure to apply for Maternity Benefit within six months of the birth of the child may result in loss of benefit.
  4. An EU citizen will be disqualified from receiving Maternity Benefit for any period of her Maternity Leave that she spends outside the EU. A non-EU citizen will be disqualified from receiving Maternity Benefit for any period of her Maternity Leave that she spends outside the Republic of Ireland. 

Absence from the State

If the claimant is an EU citizen, she is entitled to Maternity Benefit for any period of her maternity leave spent in an EU country. If the claimant is not an EU citizen, she is only entitled to Maternity Benefit for any period spent in the Republic of Ireland. A claimant will not be paid Maternity Benefit for any period spent outside the EU, except in the following circumstances:

  1. Where a claimant receiving Maternity Benefit goes abroad to receive approved medical treatment for their incapacity; (The treatment must relate to an illness incurred before going abroad)
  2. Persons who are employed abroad (posted workers) and continue to be insured under the Social Welfare Acts may be paid Maternity Benefit
  3. Maternity Benefit may be paid to a claimant in other EU member states in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) NO 883/04, Articles 19 - 21.

Imprisonment

Maternity Benefit is NOT payable if the claimant is in prison.

Rates Structure

Employees

In the case of a claim for Maternity Benefit in respect of a period of maternity leave which commences on or after 6th January 2014, the standard rate payable will be €230.00 per week.

For claims in respect of a period of maternity leave which commences prior to 6th January 2014, the following applies:
The weekly rate of benefit is calculated by dividing the gross earnings in the relevant income tax year by the number of weeks worked in that year. 80% of this amount is payable subject to minimum and maximum rates. 

Rate of payment for claims commencing on or after 6th January 2014

Maternity Benefit Weekly rate
Standard payment €230.00

 

Rates of payment for claims commencing prior to 6th January 2014:   

Maternity Benefit Weekly rate
Maximum payment €262
Minimum payment €217.80

Self-employed

In the case of a claim for Maternity Benefit in respect of a period of maternity leave which commences on or after 6th January 2014, the standard rate payable will be €230.00 per week.

For claims in respect of a period of maternity leave which commences prior to 6th January 2014, the following applies:
The weekly rate of benefit is calculated by dividing the reckonable income in the relevant income tax year by 52 weeks. 80% of this amount is payable, subject to minimum and maximum rates.

Rate of payment for claims commencing on or after 6th January 2014

Maternity Benefit Weekly rate
Standard payment €230.00

 

Rates of payment for claims commencing prior to 6th January 2014:   

Maternity Benefit Weekly rate
Maximum payment €262
Minimum payment €217.80

Illness Benefit Rate

The rate of Maternity Benefit is compared to the rate of Illness Benefit that would be paid to the woman if she was absent from work through illness. The higher of the two rates is paid (See Rates Booklet SW19 for Illness Benefit rates).

Overlapping Provisions

Half-rate/reduced rate Maternity Benefit is payable if the claimant is in receipt of one of the following payments:

  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner Contributory Pension
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner Non-Contributory Pension
  • Deserted Wife's Benefit
  • Prisoner's Wife Allowance
  • Deserted Wife's Allowance
  • Death Benefit by way of Widow's/Widower's, Surviving Civil Partner's or Dependent Parent(s) Pension (under the Occupational Injuries Scheme)

In the case of a person who is entitled to Blind Pension and Maternity Benefit the full amount of both payments may be paid concurrently unless the Blind Pensioner is in receipt of one of the following payments, in which case Maternity Benefit is NOT payable.

  • Deserted Wife's Benefit
  • Deserted Wife's Allowance
  • Prisoner's Wife Allowance
  • One Parent Family Payment
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner Contributory Pension
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner Non-Contributory Pension
  • Death Benefit by way of Widow's/Widower's/Surviving Civil Partner's or parent's pension

Maternity Benefit cannot be paid for the same period as any other Social Welfare payment except Disablement Benefit, Family Income Supplement and Child Benefit. 

Carer's Allowance

From 27 September 2007 a person who is claiming Maternity Benefit and who is providing full time care to another person living at the same address may now apply for Carer's Allowance and retain their current payment in full. If they satisfy the conditions for Carer's Allowance it will be awarded at 50% of the personal rate they would qualify for if they were not in receipt of any other payment. They will also be eligible for Household Benefits and a Free Travel Pass.

See Carer's Allowance guidelines for more information.

Increases for Qualified Adult/Qualified Child

Section 43 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, & Statutory Instrument (S.I.) No 142 of 2007 refers.

Increases of Maternity Benefit are payable in respect of a qualified adult and in respect of a qualified child. (See separate guidelines on Dependants - Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) or Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC).

If a claimant has dependants, her rate of Maternity Benefit (excluding increases for dependants) is compared to the rate of Illness Benefit (including increases for dependants) that would be paid to her if she were absent from work through illness. The higher of the two rates is paid.

If the adult dependent is getting a social welfare payment an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) cannot be paid to the claimant but a half-rate Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC) may be payable.

The claimant will qualify for a full-rate IQA and a full-rate IQC, if the adult dependent is unemployed and signing on for credits or is earning under €100.01 per week.

If the adult dependent is earning between €100.01 and €310 per week the claimant will get a tapered rate of IQA and a full-rate IQC. If the adult dependent is earning between €310.01 and €400 per week the claimant will not get an IQA but will get half rate IQC. If the adult dependent earns over €400 per week the claimant will not get an IQA or IQC.

Postponement of Maternity Leave and Maternity Benefit

Regulations provide for the postponement of part of the Maternity Leave/ Additional Maternity Leave and Maternity Benefit in the event of the hospitalisation of child.

Where Maternity Benefit has been in payment for a minimum of 14 weeks (with at least 4 weeks of this taken after the baby is born), payment may be postponed for the last 12 weeks in the event of the hospitalisation of the child.

A written application must be made to postpone payment of Maternity Benefit. The maximum duration of the postponement will be 6 months. Payment will resume following written notification of the discharge of the child from hospital and the employer certifies that they are entitled to resume postponed Maternity Leave. Payment will continue until completion of the period of entitlement to benefit.

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

Claims

Under the legislation the onus is on the claimant to apply at the correct time if she feels she is entitled to benefit. The Maternity Benefit claim form MB 10 should be completed in full and signed by the claimant in all cases. Failure to answer all questions could cause delay in processing the claim.

A registered Medical Practitioner should sign and stamp the form in relation to certification of confinement.

Employees should get their employer to sign and stamp the form in relation to certification of their Maternity Leave.

Claims should be submitted 6 weeks (12 weeks if self-employed) before the claimant intends to commence maternity leave.

The claimant should forward relevant documentation as indicated below. However this may be sent on after the initial claim is made.

Documentation

The claimant of Maternity Benefit is responsible for the production of certificates, documents, information and evidence required, including Certificate of confinement, P35, P45, P60, current payslip, verified ( see note below) copy of marriage/civil partnership certificate and/or work permit/GNIB card etc. (if required).

Note: to have verified, claimants should bring original documents to any office of the Department of Social Protection. Only verified copies are acceptable.

Maternity Benefit cannot be awarded until all the necessary documentation has been provided.

Late claims

A late claim may be accepted at the discretion of the Deciding Officer where s/he considers there was good cause throughout the period of the delay, but payment cannot be made in respect of a period more than six months prior to the date of claim. See under Disqualifications above.

Further back-dating may however be possible in certain circumstances on an extra statutory basis. See section 4.2 of the separate guidelines on ' Claims and Late Claims' .

Deciding a Claim

Particulars of PRSI contributions paid by and/or credited to the claimant are obtained from the Department's Central Records Section.

Claims are decided by a Deciding Officer appointed by the Minister under Section 299 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005. A notification of the decision is issued to the claimant, and when claims are awarded at reduced rates or disallowed the claimant is given an explanation for the partial award or disallowance.

Appeals

A person who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Deciding Officer may appeal that decision in writing within 21 days of the date of the decision, to the Chief Appeals Officer.

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

Payment

Maternity Benefit is payable by DIRECT PAYMENT on a weekly basis into a Bank or Building Society Account (a current or deposit savings account, not a mortgage account) or the claimant may choose to have it paid directly into her employer's bank account.

If the claimant does not have a Bank or Building Society Account payment will be made by cheque to her home address.

Taxation

Maternity Benefit (including any increases for adult and child dependents) is reckonable for income tax purposes from 1st July 2013. This Department pays Maternity Benefit directly to recipients without any deduction for tax. To assist in the taxation of Maternity Benefit, this Department notifies the Office of the Revenue Commissioners of the taxable amount of Maternity Benefit to be taken into account for income tax purposes.


Maternity Benefit in respect of any period up to and including 30th June 2013 is not taxable.  A claimant who chose to have her Benefit paid to her employer, who then continued to pay her normal weekly wage while receiving Benefit, may be entitled to a tax refund if the Benefit was payable in respect of any period prior to 1st July 2013. She should write to Maternity Benefit Section or complete the online form, click here, to request an MB21 Statement in respect of a tax refund (which she should then forward to her local Tax Office).  Any enquires in relation to tax affairs should be directed to the local Tax Office. The phone number and address of the local Tax Office are supplied on the ‘Notice of Determination of Tax Credits and Standard Rate cut-off point' form.
 

If a claimant chooses to have her Benefit paid to her employer, who then continues to pay her normal weekly wage while she is receiving Benefit, she may be entitled to a PRSI refund. She should complete the Refund of PRSI Contributions Application form PRSIREF 1, which can be accessed online at 'www.welfare.ie'.

Duration of Payment

Maternity Benefit is normally payable for a continuous period of 26 weeks. At least 2 and not more than 16 of these weeks must be taken before the end of the week in which the baby is due, otherwise the client may lose some benefit.

If the baby is born before the date on which the woman is due to commence Maternity Leave, her Maternity Benefit will become payable for 26 weeks from the date the baby is born.

Maintenance

When a claim is awarded, a start date and end date are inserted on the Department's payment system.

When a claimant returns to work early, the end date is updated on the payment system.

Where applicable, change of address is updated.

Certification of ongoing entitlement

The onus is on the claimant to notify the Department of any changes in the details given on the claim form e.g. returning to work before the end of her claim or change of address.

Review

A review is initiated when the claimant informs the Department of a change of circumstances.

Suspension of Payment

Payment may be suspended if new evidence is received indicating that the claimant does not fulfil the conditions or is disqualified.

Credits

Credits are awarded automatically to recipients of Maternity Benefit for each week of benefit paid.

An employment contribution may be credited to an insured person for each week during which they avail of unpaid maternity leave under the terms of the Maternity Protection Act, 1994.

Therefore if a person avails of the following

  • unpaid Maternity Leave and has not received Maternity Benefit from this Department (maximum of 26 weeks)
    and/or
  • additional unpaid Maternity Leave immediately after paid Maternity Benefit (maximum of 16)

they must get their employer to complete an application form for Maternity Leave Credits at the back of the SW 11, after they have returned to work. Completed forms should be sent to Maternity Benefit Section, Department of Social Protection, McCarter's Road, Buncrana, Co. Donegal.
Telephone LoCall 1890 690 690.

Parental Leave

The Parental Leave Act, 1998, which came into operation on 3rd December 1998, makes provision for unpaid leave for fathers and mothers to look after young children. Parental Leave may be taken either as a continuous block of 18 weeks or, with the agreement of the employer, broken up over a period of time.

Parents who take Parental Leave may be entitled to receive a PRSI Credit in respect of each week taken. This will ensure that their existing cover for Social Welfare benefits are fully maintained.

For further information contact:

Maternity Benefit Section
Department of Social Protection
McCarter's Road
Buncrana
Co. Donegal
IRELAND

For information on Parental Leave, contact:

The Equality Authority,
Public Information Centre,
Birchgrove House,Roscrea,
Co. Tipperary.

Locall 1890 245545 or 01-4173333
Website: 'www.equality.ie'

For information about employment rights and responsibilities contact:
 
Workplace Relations Customer Service
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
O’Brien Road
Carlow
LoCall: 1890 80 80 90
Tel: +353 59 917 8990

For further information on PRSI credits for Parental Leave, contact:

Records Section
Department of Social Protection
McCarter's Road
Buncrana
Co. Donegal

LoCall: 1890 690 690 (from the Republic of Ireland only) + 353 1 47 15898 (from Nothern Ireland or overseas)

Last modified:23/10/2013
 

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