How to claim universal credit

How to apply

You apply for universal credit online. There's no paper form to complete.

You can use a smartphone, computer or tablet.

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

The Help to Claim service from Citizens Advice can provide help online or over the phone.

If you can't access your universal credit account once it's set up, you should call the DWP's universal credit helpline on 0800 3285644

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.

Proving your identity during the coronavirus outbreak

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 the DWP will contact you to confirm your identity.

You don’t need to call the universal credit helpline. The DWP will call you to check and confirm details of your application if needed.

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.

If you have any concerns about your application, leave a note for the DWP in your universal credit journal and ask them to call you.

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 agree to 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.

Find out more about the universal credit interview from Citizens Advice

Last updated: 1 April 2020

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