Claiming Universal Credit is very different from previous benefits. To make it easier, our Universal Credit expert (Money Advice and Benefits Manager, Linda) has answered your frequently asked questions! You can also find lots of information about Universal Credit on the government website.
When do I need to make a claim for Universal Credit?
Universal Credit’s currently only being rolled out to working age people who need to make a new claim for benefits. People already claiming benefits won’t have to move onto Universal Credit until they are asked to, unless they have a major change of circumstances. Make sure you get advice before making a claim as you may get less money.
I know that once you make a claim for Universal Credit, you have to wait 1 month and 7 days before you get your first payment – what if I can’t wait that long?
You can apply for an advance, but you will need to pay this back within a 12-month period, so only borrow what you really need. We recommend that you pay a little extra to your rent account on a regular basis so that you have a buffer if you need to claim Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is paid monthly, but I get paid my wages weekly/every 2 weeks/every 4 weeks – what does this mean?
This means that there will be one (or more) month a year where you’ll receive more payments from your employer than in your usual assessment period, for example if you are paid every 4 weeks, in one assessment period you will receive 2 lots of wages. This will have an effect on the amount that you receive that month, and if your earnings are too high, you’ll no longer qualify for Universal Credit and may need to reapply to receive it the following month. You’ll need to be prepared for this month/these months and budget for a potential change in your monthly Universal Credit payments. You can find out more information about this on the government website.
If I’m claiming Universal Credit, do I still need to claim Council Tax Support?
Yes, this isn’t included in your Universal Credit payment, so remember to claim through your local council if you’re eligible.
I’ve got 3 or more children, does that mean that I won’t need to claim Universal Credit?
No, from 1 February 2019 the rules changed, and they’ve started taking Universal Credit claims from families with 3 or more children. Before this date, larger families have been exempted and continued claiming the old benefits.
My partners pension credit age but I’m not, should we claim Pension Credit or Universal Credit?
If you’re part of a couple and one of you is of pension age, you will be better off claiming Pension Credit rather than Universal Credit before 15 May 2019. After that date you won’t have a choice, and you'll have to claim Universal Credit until you are both pension age. If you’re unsure about making a claim, get in touch and we can advise.
Why am I getting less money than I used to receive on old benefits?
This can be because of a number of reasons. It could be because you have old over-payments that you have to pay back at a higher rate on Universal Credit. It could be that you took out an advance when you moved over to Universal Credit and you’re paying this back. Or if you’re affected by the Benefit Cap, this is applied to your whole Universal Credit payment, rather than just the housing section like under the old benefits. Parents under the age of 25 also receive less on Universal Credit than they would have done on the old benefits. If you’re worried that you’re not receiving the right amount, please get in touch and we can check and advise.
I have the severe disability premium included in my benefit payment, do I need to move onto Universal Credit?
Following a successful challenge to the High Court last year, the rules changed from 16 January this year. So, if you have the Severe Disability Premium included in your benefits, you won’t have to make a claim for UC. If you used to receive the severe disability premium and you’ve already moved onto Universal Credit, you may now be able to claim compensation. Get in touch if you’re unsure and we can advise.
If you have a question about Universal Credit or you’d like some advice about making a claim or your ongoing claim, please get in touch. Our staff are here to provide help and can support you through the claim process.
If you have a question about Universal Credit or you’d like some advice about making a claim or your ongoing claim, please get in touch. We're here to provide help and can support you through the claim process.