Universal credit: How to claim
How to apply for universal credit
This page has been updated following the coronavirus outbreak
Set up your account online
You can use a smartphone, computer or tablet to set up your account.
Keep your username, password and answers to your security questions safe. You need them to access your account in the future.
Help with making your claim
You can get independent support to make your online claim from Citizens Advice. You can get help online or over the phone.
If you can't apply online or can't access your account once it's set up, you can:
When to apply
Apply for universal credit as soon as you need it because it takes at least 5 weeks to get your first payment.
If you need to claim because you’ve lost your job, you should usually wait until after your last pay cheque. Otherwise, your final earnings count as income and your first universal credit payment could be reduced.
Your claim can be backdated for up to a month if you could have claimed earlier but you were prevented from doing so. For example, because of an illness or disability.
Get everything you need
Gather this important information before you start your universal credit claim:
- National Insurance number – if you can't find it, ask for one to be sent to you
- bank details – you can use a building society, credit union or Post Office account
- income – for example, from work, savings, other benefits or pensions
- family – if you have children, you'll need to know how much you pay for childcare
- housing – including how much your rent or mortgage is, any service charges and your landlord's contact details
Once you’ve completed your application, you may be asked for more information. You’ll be told what's needed and usually have 1 month to provide it.
Jobcentre Plus may ask your landlord to confirm you have a tenancy and how much rent you pay.
Complete the claim online
You need to enter the information required on your 'to-do list' to complete the claim.
Most people find it takes up to an hour to do this.
You need to complete the claim within 28 days of creating an account. Your entitlement won't start until you've completed the online form.
If you live with a partner, you both need to set up accounts and complete the online form. You can then link your accounts by entering a special code you’ll each be given.
Prove who you are
You need to confirm your identity as part of the application process.
You may be able to do this online using a system called GOV.UK Verify.
If you can't use GOV.UK Verify you can arrange an appointment to confirm your identity over the phone either by:
- making a note in your online journal
- calling the universal credit helpline
Lots of people are experiencing long delays when using GOV.UK Verify or calling the universal credit helpline. It can be stressful but you need to complete this step for your claim to go through.
If you don’t have ID, you might be able to prove who you are by answering security questions over the phone or getting someone else to confirm your identity. This is called a biographical check.
Book an interview
Once you've completed your online claim, you must arrange an interview with a work coach, usually within 7 days.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, these interviews are done by phone.
The work coach will:
- check your supporting information and ID
- discuss your personal situation
You have to sign a 'claimant commitment'. This sets out what you must do to get your full universal credit payment each month.
Make sure you arrange and attend your interview or your claim will be cancelled and you’ll have to re-apply.
Last updated 02 Apr 2020 | © Shelter
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