Backdating housing benefit

A housing benefit claim can sometimes be backdated for up to 3 months if you're pension age and up to 1 month if you're working age.

What is backdating?

You can sometimes get the start date of your claim backdated if you were entitled to apply for housing benefit earlier.     

Your housing benefit can only be backdated for a maximum of:

  • 3 months if you're pension age
  • 1 month if you're working age

If your benefit is backdated, you usually get a lump sum payment to cover the period before you claimed.

If you or your partner are pension age

Your housing benefit is backdated to whichever is the most recent date:

  • 3 months before you applied
  • when you reached pension age
  • the date you had to start paying rent

This happens automatically when you apply for housing benefit.

Mixed age couples

The pension age rules currently apply to couples if either of you are pension age. 

On 15 May 2019 the rules change. Couples won't usually be able to make a new claim for housing benefit unless you've both reached pension age. 

If one of you is working age, you'll usually have to claim universal credit instead. 

You'll be financially worse off on universal credit so it's important to claim housing benefit before the rules change if one of you is below pension age.

Use the AgeUK benefits calculator to check your entitlement now

Backdating if you apply for housing benefit from 15 May 2019

You can still make a backdated claim for housing benefit if one of you has reached pension age before this date. You must make your claim by 13 August 2019 - it should be automatically backdated to before the change in rules.

If you're working age

Most working age people can't make a new claim for housing benefit - they have to claim universal credit instead.

You can make a new claim for housing benefit if you're working age and either:

  • you claim other benefits which include a severe disability premium
  • you're staying in a refuge, hostel or some types of supported or temporary housing

How to get your claim backdated

You can ask to backdate your claim for up to 1 month when you apply for housing benefit

The council must backdate it if you had a good reason for claiming late.

You can send a letter to explain your circumstances. You may need to provide supporting evidence.

Use our template letter

Good reasons for claiming late

The following situations could count as a good reason for a late claim:

  • you were in hospital or prison
  • there was a failure of the postal service  
  • the council, DWP or an advice agency gave you the wrong advice about your benefit entitlement

There may be other good reasons why you've claimed late. The council must look at your individual situation and decide if your delay was reasonable.

Ask for a review of a backdating decision

The council writes to you once they've made a decision on your housing benefit claim.

If you can get housing benefit, the letter tells you the first day of your entitlement.  

You can ask for a review if you think the housing benefit decision is wrong.

A benefits adviser could help:

Find out where to get benefits advice


Last updated 07 Mar 2019 | © Shelter

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