WORK-LIFE BALANCE / DEC. 04, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Claim Child Benefit in the UK

Individuals that are either employed or unemployed and have children can claim the child benefit in the UK. The benefit payments are generally paid monthly to those who qualify. This article will address how to claim the child benefit, who is eligible, and various other factors involved. 

Eligibility Requirements

There are several factors that are involved in regard to who qualifies for receiving child benefits. The following qualifications make an individual eligible for the benefits.

  • Your child is under 16 years old
  • You have a child that lives with you and is in your care
  • You are responsible for the care of a child in your custody
  • You pay for the care of your child, even if he or she doesn’t live with you (however, the guardians of your child cannot also claim benefits)

Additionally, there are requirements regarding the age of your child and education and training factors. Those aspects are listed below.

  • Benefits will be received for 20 weeks if your child is between the ages of 16 – 17 and has opted to leave their educational training in order to join the armed forces or participate in another government sponsored career.
  • Individuals are not required to claim benefits. However, those individuals who register for them receive National Insurance credits that are counted toward their state pensions.
  • For individuals who have children under the age of 12 and are either unemployed or don’t have enough income to pay for National Insurance, the child benefits that they receive can be put towards National Insurance credits.

It is important to note that recent caps have now limited the amount of benefits that individuals aged 16 – 64 can receive. Basically, if you are in this category and receive other benefits, this can possibly affect the overall total benefits that you receive.

Special Circumstances

For individuals who have a child who lives with someone else, they can receive the child benefits for a period of 8 weeks. As previously mentioned, you can claim the benefits, only if no one else is claiming them for your child. If an instance occurs where two individuals are claiming for one child, the Child Benefit office will get in contact with you to ascertain who will continue to receive the benefits. Such individuals can claim benefits for more than 8 weeks, provided that they continue to contribute to the care of their child for the following—clothespresentsfoodspending money and towards residence.

Additionally, adoptive parents can also claim child benefits as soon as the child begins living in their home, even prior to the official adoption. Foster parents can also receive benefits provided their local council is not contributing anything to the child. The same principle applies to legal guardians who are taking care of a friend or family member’s child.

Process to Claim Benefits

The process to claiming child benefits is simple and begins with completing this claim form. After completion, the form needs to be posted to the Child Benefit Office along with copies of your child’s birth certificate or adoption certificate. For those individuals who would like to begin the claim process prior to adoption completion, they can still complete this claim form. After they receive the adoption certificate, they will then need to forward that to the Benefit Office. It is important to inform the Benefit Office of any changes to your current life situation such as a change of address, marriage or divorce or change of school. The claim process basically takes up to 12 weeks to be fully processed. It is recommended to begin the process and apply directly after the birth of your child. Back-dated benefits may not exceed the three month maximum.

Amount of Child Benefits Received

 

Basically, the amount of child benefits that an individual can receive is based upon the number of dependents he or she has. The benefits can only be received into one account, which is still the case in the event of divorced parents or those who are separated. Qualified individuals are eligible to receive £20.50 a week in benefits for their oldest child. Additional benefits of £13.55 each week are provided for each of their other children. However, parents earning more than £50,000 per year, may be required to pay a tax charge if they wish to receive child benefits.

In order to better estimate the amount of tax you will be required to pay and the amount of benefits you may receive, use the child benefit tax calculator. Qualified individuals can expect to receive their benefits payment directly deposited into their bank account monthly on Monday or Tuesday. Single parents or those currently receiving additional benefits are eligible to receive their child benefits paid into their account weekly.

Reasons Child Benefits May Be Stopped

If your child starts to work in paid employment for over 24 hours each week, you will no longer receive child benefits. Also, as previously mentioned, benefits will cease after your child’s 16 birthday and if they have left educational training. A third reason for benefits to cease is if your child has been admitted to the hospital or a residential care facility for a period of more than 12 weeks. However, there are two exceptions to this rule.

  • While in the facility, your child spends at least 24 hours a week at home
  • While in the facility, you are consistently spending money to support your child.

It is a simple process to claim child benefits in the UK. Simply follow the steps as outlined in this article and complete the claim form. 

 

Photo Credit: mojomums.co.uk     

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