How to claim universal credit
When and how to apply
Apply for universal credit (UC) as soon as you need it.
You will not get your first monthly payment for at least 5 weeks.
Your claim could be backdated for up to 1 month if you have a good reason for not claiming earlier. For example, sudden or serious illness.
If you lose your job
Apply the day after you get your final wages.
If you apply before this, your wages count as income. This means your first UC payment could be smaller.
You can apply straight away if you're waiting for a redundancy payment rather than wages. Redundancy pay should only affect your UC if your total savings will be more than £6,000.
How to apply
Most people have to apply for UC on GOV.UK.
You usually have to go to a jobcentre appointment to complete your claim.
You can claim over the phone if you:
struggle to use a computer
do not have regular internet access
need support because of a disability or health condition
Call the universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.
You can ask Citizens Advice for help.
You usually have 1 month from when you apply to:
confirm your identity
go to your jobcentre appointment
share your supporting information
Get everything together before you start
You need to have:
your bank details
how much your rent or mortgage is
evidence of your income and savings
household information, such as who lives with you and childcare costs
your national insurance number – ask HMRC if you cannot find it
Set up your online account
You need an email address and a phone number.
Set up a username, password and 2 security questions.
Keep this information safe. You need them to log in to your account.
Do not share this information with other people. It puts you at risk of identity fraud.
If you claim as a couple
You need to set up separate UC accounts.
One of you should set up your account first and start a joint claim.
You get a code which links the claims. Give the code to your partner so they can set up their account.
If you're separated but still living at the same address, claim separately. Your accounts will not be linked.
Claim through your online account
You can make your claim for UC when you've set up the account.
Completing the 'to do' list in your account. It has sections on your:
work, income and savings
If it's a joint claim you might not be able to complete everything until your account is linked to your partner's account.
Citizens Advice has more information on your 'to do' list.
Confirm your identity
You can do this from your 'to do' list if you have a UK passport or driving licence.
Do not worry if you cannot do this. You can confirm your identity over the phone or at a jobcentre appointment.
If you do not have photo ID
You can use other documents. For example your:
birth or marriage certificate
NHS medical card
If you do not have any ID, you could show who you are by answering security questions over the phone. You could also get someone else to confirm your identity.
Book a jobcentre appointment
Check your 'to do' list. There is a section that says prepare for your appointment.
This lets you choose which documents to bring. For example:
recent payslips or your P45
evidence of childcare costs
children's birth certificates and child benefit numbers
proof of rent – your tenancy agreement or a letter from your landlord
You need to show ID if you have not done this online.
Do not worry if you do not have all the documents. You have 1 month to provide them.
Go to your jobcentre appointment
Your appointment is with your work coach who will:
discuss your situation with you
check your supporting information and ID
You have to agree to a 'claimant commitment'. This sets out what you must do to get your full UC payment each month.
Most people are expected to work or look for work.
Tell your work coach if anything makes it very hard to work or look for work 35 hours a week.
childcare or caring
a disability or health condition
homelessness or domestic abuse
Find out more from Citizens Advice about preparing for your appointment.
If you tell your work coach about a disability or health condition that means you cannot work or look for work, they will send you a capability for work questionnaire (UC50 form).
Complete the form and post it back within 4 weeks.
You might have to go to a 'work capability assessment'. This is usually within 3 months.
Find out more from Citizens Advice about getting UC if you're sick or disabled.
Last updated: 5 April 2023