Don't Forget To Claim Child Benefit And Protect Your State Pension
Child Benefit is financial help from the Government to support the cost of childcare. You usually qualify for Child Benefit if you are responsible for a child under the age of 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training) and you live in the UK. Child Benefit can only be paid to one person responsible for the child and is usually paid every 4 weeks. Single parents or those receiving certain other benefits may choose to receive the payments weekly.
The current payments are £21.15 each week for your eldest child and £14 each week for any subsequent child. If parents split then only one of you can claim Child Benefit for the same child. However, if you have 2 children and one lives with you and the other lives with your ex, you will both receive £21.15 each week for the child which lives with you.
You can claim Child Benefit at any time but it can only be backdated 3 months.
By claiming Child Benefit you automatically qualify for National Insurance credits towards your State Pension if your child is under 12 years of age. Credits are given to the person who claims the Child Benefit. If you are a foster carer you need to apply for National Insurance credits which you can do through the government website.
As only one person responsible for the child can receive Child Benefit, the person not working or on a low income should claim so that they receive the National Insurance credits towards their State Pension. If you want to change who is receiving the Child Benefit then you just need to contact the Child Benefit Office. The details are on the government website (www.gov.uk/child-benefit). If you have a qualifying year of National Insurance contributions then you can transfer your National Insurance credits from claiming Child Benefit to your partner, if they are not working or not paying National Insurance contributions. However, this must be done after each tax year on an annual basis.
You can claim Child Benefit at any time but it can only be backdated 3 months. It is best to claim as soon as your child is born or comes to live with you, especially as it can take 6 to 12 weeks for a new Child Benefit claim to be processed.
It's easy to claim. Go to www.gov.uk/child-benefit/how-to-claim and fill in Child Benefit claim form CH2. You then just need to send the completed form to the Child Benefit Office. The address is on the form.
If one parent earns more than £50,000 gross per annum but less than £60,000 gross per annum, the higher earner will have to pay back some of your Child Benefit in the form of extra Income Tax via self assessment. If one parent earns more than £60,000 gross per annum then you’ll have to pay back all of your Child Benefit as Income Tax. You could put aside the Child Benefit payment into a savings or investment account, or if you don’t want the hassle of completing a tax return then still put in your claim for Child Benefit but choose not to receive the payments. This ensures that you don’t miss out on valuable National Insurance credits.
Retirement may seem like a long way off, but many individuals, especially women, are finding that they don't have enough National Insurance contributions and credits to qualify for the full State Pension. If you’re taking time out of work to look after your children, don’t forget to claim Child Benefit and protect your State Pension.
Please note that this is general guidance only and not advice. The information given relates to the tax year the article was written and tax and legislation may change in future years.