Skip to content

In 2013 in the UK, one in every 137 babies was either stillborn or died in the first 4 weeks of life

Here in N. Ireland, over 3 babies a week are stillborn or die in the first 4 weeks of life.

Maternity Rights

Financial Help following a Stillbirth/Neo-natal death

CATHY'S STORY

On 10th February 2006 my daughter, Daisy, was stillborn at 30 weeks.

In the following months, after reading an article about Millie's Campaign in a Sands newletter, I realised parents who find themselves in a similar situation are still entitled to most of the maternity rights and benefits that they would have got had their babies lived

As there is a 3 month time limit for claiming these benefits, I have written this to help parents claim what they are rightfully entitled to and to raise awareness of this issue amongst bereaved parents and professionals who they may come in contact with. I have heard from many parents about how they had missed out because of the 3 month time limit and thankfully have also been able to advise some parents who have then made successful claims.

I know this may be the last thing on your mind right now but I urge you to make your claim. This money could help you through any financial difficulties that arise through the loss of your baby. It could allow you to take extra time off work giving you much needed time to help you to come to terms with your loss. It may mean you can get the headstone you want so much for your baby's grave or be able to commemorate your baby in some other way. For us it meant we could travel to Donegal and scatter Daisy's ashes on the beach where we had our wedding photos taken.

Even if you do not think you need this money or are unsure about claiming when your baby has died, perhaps you could use it to treat yourself or your family. Right now you deserve it. Even donate it to your favourite charity if you wish but please do not feel uncomfortable about making your claim, these benefits are there to help you.

I received help from a Sure Start Maternity Grant, Maternity Allowance and Funeral Payment. We went to Donegal to scatter Daisy's ashes and the rest of the money I split three ways between my three children. Daisy's share I donated to Sands.

YOUR RIGHTS

Babies born before the start of the 25th week of pregnancy

Parents are entitled to all rights and benefits if their baby shows any signs of life at birth. In this case you will have both a birth certificate and death certificate for your baby.
If your baby is stillborn before the start of the 25th week, unfortunately you cannot claim any benefits and any time taken off work will have to be taken as sick leave. This should however be classed as 'protected' sick leave by your employer, the same as any sick leave you may have taken throughout your pregnancy.

Babies born after the start of the 25th week

All maternity rights and benefits apply from the start of the 25th week of pregnancy and you should be able to claim everything that you were entitled to had your baby lived. Tax Credits and Child Benefit are the only two exceptions (please read relevant section for details).

For further information on your rights go to www.workingfamilies.org.uk.

From your employer

(For further details speak to your employer)
Maternity Leave

New mums are entitled to 26 weeks paid Maternity Leave from work. This can then be followed by up to a further 26 weeks unpaid Maternity Leave.

Paternity Leave

New dads are entitled to 2 weeks Paternity Leave from the date of birth.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

Paid by employers to employees who have been working for them throughout their pregnancy. Paid for a maximum of 26 weeks. If you qualify you are entitled to SMP whether you return to work or not.

Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP)

If you are entitled to Paternity Leave from work, you should also be entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay.

From the Social Security Agency

(For further details, contact your local Social Security Office / Jobs and Benefit Office or the Benefit Shop on Royal Ave in Belfast. While the information included in this part of the leaflet was correct at the time of going to press, changes are made to benefit regulations from time to time, which may affect the future accuracy of this information. Up to date benefit information can be obtained from the offices mentioned above or from the Department for Social Development's website www.dsdni.gov.uk.)
Maternity Allowance (MA)

Paid to pregnant woman who cannot get SMP. You can only get MA if you cannot get SMP, have been an employed and/or self-employed earner for at least 26 weeks in the 66-week period up to and including the week before your expected week of childbirth and earned on average at least £30 a week in any 13 weeks in that 66 week period. It is paid for up to 39 weeks. To claim, fill in form MA1 which is available from your local Social Security Office / Jobs and Benefit Office or the Benefit Shop on Royal Ave in Belfast. You can download the form from the Department for Social Development's website www.dsdni.gov.uk. You will also need a Maternity Certificate (MAT B1) from your doctor to make your claim.

Incapacity Benefit

If you claim MA, you will automatically be considered for Incapacity Benefit if you do not qualify for MA. Your MAT B1 form is accepted as evidence of incapacity to work for the period starting six weeks before the baby is due to 14 days after the date the baby is born.

Funeral Payment

Help may be available with the cost of a funeral if you or your partner are getting one of the following benefits:

1 - Income Support.
2 - Income based Jobseeker's Allowance.
3 - Housing Benefit.
4 - Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element.
5 - Working Tax Credit where disability or severe disability element is included in the award.

 

To claim, fill in form SF 200 which is available from your local Social Security Office / Jobs and Benefit Office or the Benefit Shop on Royal Ave in Belfast. You can download this form from the Department for Social Development's website www.dsdni.gov.uk.

Sure Start Maternity Grant

This is a one-off payment. You may be entitled to it if you or your partner are getting:

1 - Income Support.
2 - Income based Jobseekers Allowance.
3 - Working Tax Credit where disability or severe disability element is included in the award.
4 - Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element.

 

To claim fill in form SF100(Sure Start) available from your local Social Security Office / Jobs and Benefit Office or the Benefit Shop on Royal Ave in Belfast. You can download one from the Department for Social Development's website www.dsdni.gov.uk.

From HM Revenue and Customs

Child Benefit

(for further details ring the helpline on 0845 603 2000 or go to www.hmrc.gov.uk)

If your baby shows any signs of life when born you are entitled to claim Child Benefit. This will be payable for a further 8 weeks after the day your baby dies. Even if your baby survives only for an instant this is a live birth and you can still claim Child Benefit. To claim Child Benefit:

1 - Phone the helpline for a claim pack.
2 - Fill in a claim form online.
3 - Download a claim pack from the internet.

 

Tax Credit
(for further details ring the helpline on 0845 300 3900 or go to www.hmrc.gov.uk)

The same rules apply for Tax Credits as Child Benefit. Depending on your income you may also be entitled to Child Tax Credit for a period of 8 weeks as above. To claim Tax Credit:

1 - Phone the helpline for a claim pack.
2 - Apply online - this service is temporarily closed.

 

Child Trust Fund

If your Child Benefit Claim has been successful, you will also receive a Child Trust Fund voucher for your baby. This will be sent to you automatically.

Please note that this information gives general guidance only for Northern Ireland. It has no status in law.

Medical Care

(for further details speak to your GP)
Free Prescription and Dental Care

As during your pregnancy, you can still receive free prescriptions and dental care after your baby is born. This continues for 1 year from your baby's date of birth/stillbirth.

 

Millie's Campaign - Brenda's Story

 

Millie Grace, my precious granddaughter died aged just 9 ½ hours old. Following the death of their baby, in September 2004, my daughter & her husband had been entitled to 8 weeks Child Benefit payments amounting to approx £130.00, the Child Trust Fund payment of £250 and Tax Credits amounting to in excess of £600.
This information was discovered 5 months later quite by chance. Too late for them to make their claims, as claims can only be backdated 3 months.
They felt very disappointed and extremely let down. The money could have made their everyday life that little bit easier by reducing financial concerns.

 

In most cases, when a baby is born in hospital the parents are given a Bounty Pack containing free samples, baby info' etc and a Child Benefit claim form/notes.
It is hospital policy that parents of newborn babies who are experiencing health problems or do not survive are not given this pack as it is felt it would be very insensitive. This does mean however, that they do not receive the important Child Benefit claim form and additional information. This is what had happened in my daughter's case.

We felt very strongly that there was a need to raise awareness among bereaved parents and Health Professionals of the financial support available following the death of a baby.
Currently the law is different for the parents whose babies are stillborn/ born sleeping. They are not entitled to the same benefits because a birth certificate is needed for parents to be eligible.
The fact that a birth certificate is not issued to parents of a stillborn baby is the one and only difference, their suffering, their grief, their turmoil, their devastation, their emptiness, their need for financial support at this time is the exactly the same.
They should not be treated differently?

We have designed a leaflet and continue to look for areas where we can advise both bereaved parents, Health Professionals and the appropriate Government Departments.

Many parents may have missed out on the financial benefits that they had been entitled to simply because they unaware of it's existence.

Each time the information is passed on it brings us closer to the completion of our aim: for ALL parents to KNOW what they can claim!