What Are Child Benefit?
Child Benefit, formally known as Family Allowance, is a set amount of money that is paid to persons who are responsible for children up to the age of 16, or below 20 for school going persons. Only one person for each child can claim Child Benefit. To ensure smooth access to this benefit, caretakers are urged to report any changes regarding the child to the relevant offices, as soon as they happen.
If your income (or that of your partner) is above £50,000, then you may be required to pay a tax charge.
Importance of Filling out Child Benefit Claim Forms
Owing to the mentioned tax charges, many people may opt to stay without applying for the child benefit. This is because there are times when the total tax may surpass the child benefit to be paid. Nonetheless, even if you choose to stay without the child benefit, it is wise to fill out the claim forms. Below are the reasons why;
- The child under your care automatically gets registered for issuance of a national insurance number which is issued at the age of 16
- You accumulate national insurance credits which add value to your state pension
Child Benefit Rates
The eldest children are eligible for £20.70 per week. The same rates apply for ‘only’ children. Any additional child is entitled to £13.70 on a weekly basis. Any overpayments or underpayments should be communicated to the child benefit office as soon as possible.
Guardian’s allowance could be added to people taking care of other people’s children, take, for instance, a child who has lost both parents. If any, the guardian’s allowance will be paid as an addition to the child benefit.
How Are Benefit Paid For Split Or Merged Families?
In the event that your family splits, then each one of you will get £20.70 per week for the eldest child that stays with you. For instance, if you and your partner have two children, and each partner stays with one child after splitting, then you can both claim £20.70 per week for the child that stays with you. If there is only one child, then the person living with him/her will be the only one getting paid after a split.
What if families merge? In this case, the eldest child of the merging families will be only one entitled to the £20.70 rate. All the other children get the £13.70 per child.
Payments of Child Benefit
Normally, the child benefit will be paid on the first Monday or Tuesday of every month, however, caretakers under a special category such as single mothers and those receiving other payments such as income support can opt to have their payments on a weekly basis.
Child benefit can only be paid into one account. Ensure that your stated payment bank is yours and that it bears your name. Caretakers with an income that exceeds £50,000 may be required to pay a certain fee known as the tax charge.
The Relationship between Child Benefit and State Pension
If you have a child who is below 12 years and you are still unemployed or do not earn enough money to pay national insurance contributions, then applying for child benefit can help you to qualify for national insurance credits. These credits add a score to your state pension and protect it by ensuring that there are no gaps in your national insurance record.
Eligibility for Child Benefit Payments
As mentioned earlier, only one person can claim benefit for each child. You are required to be a UK resident and responsible for a child under the age of 16 or 20 for children in full time education. How is the responsibility to a child calculated? You are only responsible if you live with the child and or pay an amount or contributions totaling to the £20.70 to the person taking care of them.
Contributions can be in terms of food, pocket money, clothes, presents, and money. The benefit continue for five months after 16-17-year-olds clear school and join a government body. Eligibility may differ if your child lives with someone else or is in hospital care.
Your access to child benefit ceases when;
- The benefiting child begins receiving certain benefit such as income support, tax credits or employment income on their own.
- The child starts engaging in paid employment for 24 hours or more per week
- The child is no longer approved for education and training
- The benefiting child settles for an apprenticeship in England
How to Claim For Child Benefit
Fill out a child benefit claim form commonly known as CH2. Attach original birth certificate and send it to the child benefit office. If you are living with an adopted child, you will be required to attach the adoption certificate.
If for some reason you do not have either the birth or adoption certificate, do not hesitate to send your claim form. You can then send the certificate later when you have access to it. Remember you can always apply for a new adoption or birth certificate if you have lost it.
Subsequent claim applications for the same child do not require you to attach birth or adoption certificate. Just fill in the claim form and send it to the child benefit office.
You can get child tax credits; working tax credits also have a child care element in it. Tax credits are monies paid to the parents who are taking care of the child/children. Tax credits are means tested; the amount you get is dependent on your income. Couples are encouraged to apply jointly for tax credits. If that is impossible, the parent taking care of the child (in case of a divorce or lone parent home) can apply. Keep in mind that you can only get tax credits if you are already receiving child benefit.
It takes around 3 months to process a new child benefit claim. This period may be a bit longer if you just moved to the UK.
It is advisable to make claims as soon as possible; do it as soon as your child is born or comes to live under your care.
Child benefit payments can be backdated for a maximum of 3 months but it is always good to make claims soonest possible.
Any changes affecting the eligible children should be reported to the child benefit office as soon as they happen. Such changes may include the family status or the child’s education. In case of any dissatisfaction, feel free to contact the child benefit office.
You can also send appeals to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal in case you do not agree with any decision at the child benefit office. However, you can always ask for a compulsory re-consideration before moving to the appeal body.