An unemployed woman became pregnant again while receiving parental benefits for her first child. In this case, she is again entitled to maternity benefit from her health insurance fund. This is the result of a decision of the State Social Court of Lower Saxony-Bremen of 17 December 2019 (L 16 KR 191/18).
A female employee was employed on a limited-term contract until the end of 2015. During this time she became pregnant. For the first three weeks thereafter she received unemployment benefit, then maternity benefit and finally parental allowance until March 2017. The woman became pregnant again during the same period. The maternity leave for the second child began while she was still receiving parental benefit for child 1.
She submitted an application for maternity benefit for the sibling, but this was rejected by her health insurance company. The insurer justified this on the basis that the employment relationship had ended at the beginning of the new protection period and that she had been insured free of contributions exclusively by receiving parental benefit. A further payment of maternity benefit was therefore excluded.
Thereupon, the mother brought an action against the health insurance fund before the Regional Social Court of Lower Saxony-Bremen.
The judges considered their claim to be justified. According to the court, the plaintiff's full insurance status as an unemployed person was maintained through a chain of seamless "conservation actions". In fact, she had not completely withdrawn from working life, or had not broken off her relationship with working life.
In order to obtain a renewed entitlement to maternity benefit, it was not legally necessary either to first let the first parental benefit expire and to register as unemployed again before the beginning of a second maternity protection period.
Because of the fundamental significance of the case, the judges allowed an appeal to the Federal Social Court. Affected mothers are advised to apply for maternity benefit with reference to the above judgement; in case of doubt, you should assert your claim in court.
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