Child Benefit is a payment that is designed to help those raising families. Currently, it is paid every four weeks and there is no limit on how many children can be claimed for. It likely provides welcome relief for families on lower incomes and at the same time it provides other benefits. The government encourages people to claim for Child Benefit as it can provide National Insurance Credits which counts towards state pensions. On top of this, the child that is being claimed for will automatically get a National Insurance Number when they turn 16.
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The Child Benefit process is relatively straight forward. A claim can be made from as soon as the birth of the child is registered.
It can take up to 12 weeks for a claim to be processed but the benefit can be backdated by up to three months. To put in an initial claim, a “CH2” form should be completed and sent in to the Child Benefit office.
However, once the claim is completed and been paid out, it is up to the parents to keep on top of any changes and report it to the government.
This could prove to be difficult as there are many things which can stop or alter Child Benefit being paid.
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Keeping an eye on how long a child is in care may be an unexpected burden (Image: GETTY)
Any changes in circumstances should be reported to the Government (Image: GETTY)
Child Benefit will automatically stop on 31 August on or after the child’s sixteenth birthday if they leave approved education or training.
However, the benefit could also be affected by changes to the child’s circumstances or family’s circumstances. The government details that these changes will need to be reported straight away:
Changes to the Child’s circumstances
Clamaints should inform the Child Benefit Office immediately if the child does any of the following:
Starts paid work for 24 hours a week or moreWill live away from you for either eight weeks in a row or more than 56 days in a 16-week periodWill go abroad permanently or for more than 12 weeksMoves to or from Northern IrelandDiesChanges their nameChanges their genderGoes missingGets married, forms a civil partnership or starts to live with a partnerStarts getting certain benefits – Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit, tax credits or Employment and Support AllowanceGoes to prison for more than eight weeks
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Why filling in Child Benefit claim form may be vital for state pension Child Benefit: 200,000 families may be damaging their state pension Changes to the family’s circumstancesClamaints should inform the Child Benefit Office immediately if the parents do any of the following:Change bank account, name or address changesChange genderRelationship ends with a partnerStart a new relationship, for example moving in with a new partner or remarryingHave diedIntend to go abroad for more than eight weeksIntend to move abroad permanently or for more than a yearAre a Crown servant leaving the UK for a posting abroadMoving to or from Northern IrelandAre having a baby, or a child comes to live with youHave payments or contributions for a child who does not live with them stop or changeAre paid to look after a child by a local council or similarImmigration status changesLose the right to reside in the UKGet a prison sentence of more than eight weeks
However, one of the changes in circumstances that could really be difficult to manage is one where Child Benefit will likely be needed most.
Child Benefit is tied in with the Universal Credit system (Image: EXPRESS)
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Child Benefit payments may be affected if the child goes into care for more than eight weeks, or hospital or “residential” care for more than 12 weeks.
The timing of these limits can be affected by how the weeks and days are split and if there’s any breaks in the care.
If the child goes back into hospital or residential care within 28 days of leaving it – the total time spent away from home will count towards the 12 week (84 day) limit.
Parents of very sick children may already have plenty of stress to deal with but this may be exacerbated by the time limit the government has in place.
Child Benefit is designed to help those raising a family (Image: GETTY)
Usually, after the eight or 12 weeks, the claimants will no longer be entitled to Child Benefit at all.
There are exceptions for this however, which include if the child spends at least 24 hours a week at home while in care, if money is regularly spent on a child in a UK hospital or residential care or if the child is in hospital abroad and the claimants are in the UK and regularly spend money on them.
The government advises that for anyone who this may be applicable to, they should check with the Child Benefit office to find out if exceptions apply to them.