THANKS to your evidence, AFF has been able to press the MOD to make an important update to its maternity allowance policy, so that you’re not disadvantaged if posted overseas.
In 2012, the MOD ex-gratia payment in lieu of maternity allowance was introduced for spouses and civil partners who would have otherwise been entitled to receive the benefit had they remained in the UK.
It means your serving person can claim maternity allowance from the MOD on your behalf if you are posted outside of the European Economic Area and where there is no reciprocal benefit agreement.
Some of you contacted AFF to tell us that the policy was failing you, as our Employment, Training, Allowances & Money Specialist, Laura Lewin, explained: “Families told us it was difficult to claim as they were not given the required paperwork that the Defence Information Notice (DIN) asked for.
“This was the evidence we needed to talk to policy makers at the MOD and Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) to highlight that there was a problem. The DIN has now been amended so the appropriate forms can be issued.”
Laura helped Nicola and Aron McCombe find a solution when their application for maternity allowance was rejected by the MOD on their return from their posting to BATUS, Canada.
“We discovered that we were expecting our first child due in September 2014,” said Nicola. “I was working full-time and we were not due posting until the October, but we were short-toured and our move back to the UK was brought forward to June, four weeks shy of the date I needed to qualify for my maternity benefits package.”
The McCombes explored options to remain in Canada for the remaining four weeks, but were left with no choice but to leave.
“The military staff at BATUS were incredibly supportive, working with us to try to find a resolution,” added Nicola.
“After several phone calls to the DWP, the BATUS regimental administration officer confirmed that I would be eligible.
“However, on return to the UK we were frustrated to find that our application had been turned down as my work in Canada could not be used towards entitlement.”
“AFF’s support from the outset was fantastic,” said Nicola. “Laura advised me on what steps to take next and also liaised with both the DWP and MOD at a higher level.
“It proved successful on two levels; the military policy was rewritten which has benefitted other military families and two years on, I finally received the ex-gratia payment.
“Without a doubt none of this would have been possible had AFF not supported our case and invested time in pursuing it, for which we are incredibly grateful.”
Information on maternity benefits can be found under the Army Family Life section at aff.org.uk
If you’re struggling to understand the policy or feel that it has not worked for you, Laura is happy to help. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Your soldier can access the DIN (2012DIN01-220) via Defence Intranet
- International Pension Centre (+44 (0)191 218 7777)
- DWP guide to maternity benefits
- Money Advice Service
AFF works hard to improve the quality of life for Army families around the world. A result such as this shows the value of contacting us – www.aff.org.uk