Legally Mom: Maternity Capital in Russia
The Legally Mom school of legal literacy regularly holds educational online lectures within the Grant of the President of the Russian Federation. Practising lawyers share useful tips on the most relevant topics and answer questions from the audience in real time. During one of the meetings, Elena Grin, PhD in Law, Head of the Legal Education of Citizens project of the All-Russia People’s Front and co-founder of the Legally Mom project, spoke about the main features of receiving and using maternity capital.
PhD in Law, Deputy Head of the Department of Intellectual Rights at the Moscow State Law University, member of the scientific advisory board at the Intellectual Property Rights Court, Head of the Legal Education of Citizens project of the All-Russia People’s Front, co-founder of the Legally Mom centre of legal support, co-founder of the Legally Mom project
Russia provides its citizens with two forms of maternity capital: at the federal level (with unified conditions for all citizens) and at the regional level (with conditions formulated by a particular region of Russia). They are different in terms of the capital’s amount and the purposes for which it can be used. During the lecture, Elena Grin paid attention primarily to the maternity capital from the federal budget.
As emphasized by the expert, that is one of the most relevant topics for modern women, which is very popular among the Legally Mom project participants. Elena Grin and her colleagues have a blog on Instagram. They not only share useful legal tips but also provide subscribers with free consulting on specific situations. As noted by experts, questions related to maternity capital are especially often asked by modern mothers. That measure of support has many nuances. Elena Grin told us about them in detail during the lecture.
What Is Maternity Capital?
Maternity capital is a measure of state financial support for families with children. This description is fundamentally important for understanding how capital can be used. The support measure is primarily aimed at taking care of the family, the child, and creating comfortable conditions for children’s life rather than solving problems for the parents only.
Maternity capital was introduced in Russia in 2007. At that time, it was available to families with two or more children (at least one of whom was born or adopted after the law came into force). However, today, Russia has different rules regulating the grounds for receiving the certificate. This support measure has also become available for families having their first child since 2020.
The family has the right to receive maternity capital only once irrespective of the number of its children.
Today, maternity capital for the first child born after 2020 amounts to 483881 rubles. However, if the family has more than one child, the amount of money granted by the certificate increases. For example, if the first child was born in the period from 2007 to 2020, the second child appeared after 2020, and the support measure was not implemented, the amount of maternity capital for two children will be 639431 rubles. Moreover, 155550 rubles will be added to the initial maternity capital if two or more children appeared in the family after 2020.
Importantly, the maternity capital is being indexed annually. It increased by 3.7% in 2021. Interestingly, the amount is gradually increasing both for those families who received and did not use the certificate and for those who used it partially. The calculations are based on the balance of funds. According to Elena Grin, saving maternity capital may be a good investment in the future of children if the family does not need financial support at the moment.
Who and How Can Receive Maternity Capital?
For access to maternity capital, the mother and the born or adopted child must have Russian citizenship. The citizenship of the father does not matter.
Not only a woman but also a man may become a holder of maternity capital. Such a situation is possible if he is the sole adopter of the child or in the case of the death of the mother or her deprivation of parental rights after the birth of the child. In this case, a man should have the citizenship of the Russian Federation.
As emphasized by Elena Grin, she faced controversial cases often in her legal practice. For example, when families having one or more children move from abroad and receive Russian citizenship. Or when a child of a Russian woman is born abroad and receives citizenship of that country. Today, the court considers each unusual situation individually. The right to receive maternity capital is awarded by the decision of the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation.
If we consider a case with the adoption of a child, the maternity capital does not depend on the date of birth. It depends on the year when the child was adopted. The right to state support appears if the court decision on adoption was made after January 1, 2020.
Before April 2020, it was necessary to submit a corresponding application to the Pension Fund to receive maternity capital. Today, it is not obligatory: the right to receive that support measure appears automatically upon registering the birth of a child. The certificate can be obtained in an electronic form via Gosuslugi web-portal or a personal account on the website of the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation.
Parents need to apply to the Pension Fund only if the child was born before April 2020 and the right to maternity capital was not realized for some reason. According to the general rules, it will also be necessary to have the passport of a citizen of the Russian Federation, the certificate of birth or adoption of the child, and the documents confirming the child’s citizenship.
How Can Maternity Capital Be Used?
Elena Grin emphasized the necessity to use maternity capital only in accordance with the purposes stated in the federal law ‘On Additional Measures of Social Support for Families with Children’. Any other ways of using the funds will be considered fraudulent and can lead to serious consequences.
Maternity capital can be used for purposes related to improving the family’s living conditions, children’s education, monthly maintenance allowances, and adaptation of children with disabilities.
Improving the family’s living conditions is one of the most demanded means of implementing maternity capital. However, Elena Grin paid attention to several nuances that families should know before using the funds in that way.
For example, the maternity capital can be used for major but not current repairs of the living space. The funds can be spent on a mortgage, the purchase of the real estate, or the construction of a house. In this case, using maternity capital in mortgage payments is allowed from the first days of the birth of a child. Spending maternity capital on the purchase of real estate is allowed only after the child is 3 years old. Moreover, the distribution of ownership shares between the mother, father, and children is a mandatory condition in this case. Selling such real estate will only be possible after coordinating it with the guardianship bodies.
There are also some nuances related to the use of maternity capital for purposes related to the education of children. Elena Grin advised checking the license of the private kindergarten for the right to conduct educational activities before using state support funds for paying for the kindergarten’s services. Otherwise, the use of maternity capital will be considered illegal.
Maternity capital received for the youngest child can be used for ensuring quality education of any of the older children.
Since 2018, maternity capital can be used for monthly maintenance allowances. Today, this is the only way to cash out the state support funds for families with children legally. However, such payments are distributed only to really needy people. The key condition here is related to the amount of income per family member. It must not exceed twice the minimum subsistence level of the working population.
Maternity capital funds or a part of them can also be used for the purchase of goods and services aimed at the social adaptation of children with disabilities. Although the function is very useful and necessary for families experiencing this problem, the list of approved goods and services is still not long enough. As noted by Elena Grin, active discussions on the expansion of opportunities to use maternity capital in this direction are taking place at the legislative level today.
Finally, the funds or part of maternity capital may be included in the pension savings of a woman who received the certificate. However, this option is not common in Russia. In most cases, when using the funds, mothers think primarily about the future of their children and take care of their well-being in the present.
The current maternity capital programme will be continued until 2026. However, many years of successful practice show the importance and use of support measures for society. It means that the programme will be further extended, developed, and improved.
You can find detailed video lectures on this and many other topics and download free presentations and notes on the Legally Mom website.
Viktoria Gusakova, Global Women Media news agency
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov