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Benefits when pregnant

(16 Posts)
DoctorWhoFan Thu 27-Dec-12 01:23:34

Hi all,

Is anyone able to give me a bit of advice?

I currently receive DLA and ESA, also Housing Benefit. I won't be entitled to Maternity Allowance as I won't have worked in the 66 weeks before the baby is due. From what I've read on the internet so far, it seems that ESA will be the thing that covers me during my pregnancy and beyond. Does anyone know if this is the case and if so, I'm assuming the amount I currently receive per week will increase? I tried looking on the government website, but I just ended up more confused than before I started...

Is there anyone else in my position? I will be a lone parent with a mental illness in my mid 40s - pretty challenging, but I'm only scared about the financial aspects of it really.

Thanks very much in advance.

Rockchick1984 Thu 27-Dec-12 08:51:34

Go on and have a look, it should tell you on there if you put in your details as though you have already had the baby smile

RedHelenB Thu 27-Dec-12 12:01:24

You will get child tax credits & child benefit when baby is born.

JakeBullet Thu 27-Dec-12 12:13:39

Oh bless you, am assuming this baby is a surprise to you. I've been there, was told I'd never have children and then at 36 conceived DS out of the blue. Have never regretted it but financially it was very scary. Definitely look at the website as linked will give you an idea of financial support.

BitofSparklingPerry Thu 27-Dec-12 12:17:14

Nothing will change till the baby is born, thn you will get child benefit and child tax credit, as well as housing and council tax benefit if appropriate

DoctorWhoFan Thu 27-Dec-12 12:24:26

Thanks ladies. Rockchick, I'll go and have a look on that website now. Much obliged. smile

StormyBrid Thu 27-Dec-12 12:31:28

There'll be no changes in your benefit entitlements at all until you get to 29 weeks. At that point you'll be able to switch to income support if you want (which would be very useful if your ESA currently involves work-related activity, which is likely to not be appropriate for you when you have a baby or are heavily pregnant). At the moment, you'll be entitled to income support until the baby turns five, although that's set to change under universal credit. (I'd advise not googling universal credit unless you want to thoroughly depress yourself.)

As soon as your baby's born, your housing benefit entitlement may increase. Don't know what rate you get now, but when it's born you'll qualify for the two-bedroom rate, as baby needs a bedroom. You'll also qualify for child tax credits and child benefit.

If it's your first child, then from 29 weeks you can apply for a sure start maternity grant of £500. You can get the form for that from your midwife and will need her to sign it. If you're at least 10 weeks pregnant, you're also entitled to healthy start vouchers - £3.10 a week and can be used for fruit, vegetables, and cow's milk. Again, form and signature from midwife needed.

No idea how your DLA will be affected, sorry. Good luck!

DoctorWhoFan Thu 27-Dec-12 13:24:48

Hiya StormyBrid. ESA doesn't include work-related activity as I'm on the support element due to batshittedness! Although given the fact that Atos Healthcare are quite keen on keeping bothering me about whether I'm still crazy enough to be entitled to ESA, that could all change if they decide I'm ok. Idiots! I know someone who suffers with Chronic Fatigue who literally cannot get out of bed most of the time due to their illness and yet Atos think they should be capable of work - I know for a FACT they aren''s really scary the fact that they keep pestering you. To be honest, it's one of my major triggers as far as my mental health goes.

As far as the baby and mental health stuff, I have a great deal of support from friends who all live locally, so I know that if there are days when I'm really struggling, I can just pick up the phone. I have no way I can ever thank my friends enough for the support they give me.

Housing benefit has been and is still a bit of an issue as according to my psych I should have a 2 bed place in case I need someone to stay over to care for me when I'm not too good. So far the council are being obtuse (no surprises there!) and the only housing options they offered me were supported housing with no pets allowed and I have an elderly dog who is most DEFINITELY coming with me. So I have had to get a private let. Will be visiting the council and waving the letter at them so they stop being utter knob heads.

Once I started looking at things like Child Tax Credit I got less scared as it seemed like quite a bit of money and I'm an excellent budgeter! Yes, first child, so the £500 sure start will really help. Though I DO have friends who can help out with baby items, which is nice. Also, I'm a voracious knitter and baby clothes are fun to do, so I'm knitting for England LOL!

Had already decided not to google Universal Credit as, you're right, I really don't want to depress myself just yet. Besides, given batshit status, I can quite easily do that myself without any outside triggers grin. Gotta laugh, eh?

Oooh, that ended up a bit long blush

DoctorWhoFan Thu 27-Dec-12 13:25:45

Meant to say...thanks for the really helpful answer StormyBrid smile

StormyBrid Thu 27-Dec-12 14:38:03

It's those charming people at Atos who make me think you might be better off just switching to income support when you're eligible to. If they declared you fit for work then your status as a parent of a young child would mean you'd then switch over to IS rather than JSA, but in the meantime there's the joy of being constantly dragged in for more assessments. Depends if you want to skip the potential hassle, really.

On the housing front, unfortunately I suspect you'll get nowhere getting them to bend the rules based on medical recommendations. It's shitty, but that's bureaucracy for you. I imagine they'd say if anyone needs to stay over they can sleep on the sofa, or similar. At least this baby means they'll definitely pay extra for a two-bed place. It's not a huge increase weekly though - I was checking for me this morning and I'm currently looking at about £70 a week for one bedroom and it only goes up to £86 a week for two.

Child tax credits do look awesome, but they're being rolled into universal credit too. So do be aware that whatever budget you draw up now, it's all set to change when UC rolls out where you are and you'll likely end up with rather less. No idea how much less though, as they don't seem to want to release any concrete figures. I'm just going with the head-in-the-sand option on that one for now, because fretting won't make any difference at all.

As for baby stuff, you'll be amazed how many people suddenly start offering you stuff when they hear there's a baby on the way! The only bugger is finding somewhere to put it all when housing won't fork out for a second bedroom until you've given birth. smile

DoctorWhoFan Thu 27-Dec-12 14:55:53

It's OK, I've already got a 2 bed place. I just need them to pay for the other bedroom. It would make an £81 per 4 weeks difference - which is a fair bit.

To be fair, when I'm batshit, I need someone to stay for more than a night or two - it can be weeks on end, hence the psych saying I needed a 2 bed place. Really unfair to expect anyone to sleep on the couch for that long. Besides, they'd have to share it with my fat, smelly, farty, sofa-hogging old Staffy...not recommended really grin. The floor starts to look REALLY attractive when he parks his farty bum down next to you LOL.

So far I've been quite lucky with Atos in that they've not asked me to go for an assessment, although I can almost guarantee it's coming. The last time I sent them a form in (just before Xmas), I suspect they read it and thought "We'll live just fine without her coming to our offices" LMAO! I was feeling particularly mad when I filled it in, plus it stressed me the hell out. I don't leave the house without I have someone with me anymore as I seem to have developed agoraphobia along with the So if they DO want me to go for an assessment...I can't go unless someone can take time off work to hold my hand. Pathetic, but true! Meh. I can't even go and see my GP or my psych without someone comes with me. Can't even go to the local shop for a pint of milk. I'd give myself a shake if I wasn't so bloomin' apathetic!

Head in the sand option when it comes to Universal Credits is working for me too. I'll worry about it when the robbing bastards government decide to take my money away and then I'll morph into the utter pain in the hole that I know I can be when pushed hard enough grin.

StormyBrid Thu 27-Dec-12 15:30:51

Ooh, that sounds like you might have a nasty catch-22 looming with Atos. When they call you in (and they will), if you can't attend they'll stop your benefits, and if someone goes with you so you can attend, they'll declare you fit for work as you have working limbs and so can push buttons (never mind the fact that there aren't any jobs that only require pushing buttons). Then you appeal it, and get the basic rate of ESA while they process that, and then, unless you're very lucky, they find you fit for work. And even if they find you unfit, they'll just call you in for another assessment. How long have you been on ESA?

A relevant point to consider about UC is that, in theory, existing claims will be protected so you won't immediately take a huge hit to your income, but any change in your circumstances means you lose that protection. Being declared fit for work would count as a change in circumstances. If you're already on IS when UC comes in you'd sidestep that particular issue.

Also, how pregnant are you? I'm wondering about the likelihood that you're going to end up called in for an assessment before 29 weeks. And also I'm nosy. grin

DoctorWhoFan Thu 27-Dec-12 15:37:39

Well Atos know I can push buttons...they also know that my mental illness is debilitating, despite my medication. I've only been on ESA since May this year. And the same for DLA. All those years of being batshit and not knowing that I was entitled to DLA. If I'd known that, I wouldn't have pushed myself so hard to work in a stressful job that was making me progressively sicker and sicker.

I can't keep talking about Atos I'm afraid. It's sending me into a bit of a spin and I'm getting more and more stressed. Just thinking about them and the fact that I could lose the benefits that I utterly rely on makes me want to take to my bed. sad

JakeBullet Thu 27-Dec-12 15:47:03

Not friend has very poor mental health, she attended ATOS with a support worker and they did not find her fit for work. She is severely agoraphobic and getting her there was a nightmare so she sobbed all the way through it.

StormyBrid Thu 27-Dec-12 16:02:30

Eek, sorry, didn't mean to stress you out. sad But, happy thought - having this baby means you're NOT reliant on Atos being competent. Income support isn't dependent on your health, you'll qualify on the grounds of being pregnant or a parent of a young child and being unemployed. So you'll have that to fall back on whatever happens.

Fluffeh Sat 05-Jan-13 14:51:34

Maybe a buy late but regarding the need for an extra bedroom. My local council accepted a letter from my gp stating that I needed overnight care when my DP wasn't living with me and they did pay for a second bedroom in my housing benefit.
It took months to sort it all out but they back dated from the date i applied until the date my DP had to move in and be my full time carer.
I'm getting 1 bedroom rate again now but it really helped when I needed it smile.

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