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Can Universal Credit Be Backdated?

Written by, Marija Petkova

Updated May, 16, 2022

If you’ve recently become unemployed or part of the 16% who need help to cover some of their costs, you’ve probably looked into applying for Universal Credit.

But, can Universal Credit be backdated?

Let’s find out.

Backdating Universal Credit: What You Need to Know

You may backdate your Universal Credit payment up to a month prior to your claim. 

You’re required to provide a reasonable cause for not submitting a claim sooner. If you’re applying as a couple, both parties must have a good reason to receive permission for backdating. 

Valid Universal Credit backdated reasons include:

  • You weren’t notified that your Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) benefits will be discontinued.
  • You have a disability.
  • You were unable to make a claim due to an illness.
  • You couldn’t make a claim due to a system failure or system maintenance issues and you submitted the claims as soon as the technical problems were resolved.
  • You had a joint claim for Universal Credit and made a new claim as a single after a breakup with a partner.
  • Your joint claim ended because your partner didn’t accept the claimant commitment. 

How to Apply for a Universal Credit Backdating

You can apply to get a backdated Universal Credit online or via the Universal Credit helpline. Phone applications are usually reserved for people who don’t have access to a computer or have difficulties reading or writing.

Regardless of the channel you choose, you’ll be asked to provide your bank information or credit union account details, phone number, or email address.

Universal credit backdating regulations dictate that an applicant has to prove their identity by providing identification documents, such as a passport, a driving licence, a debit or credit card, a payslip, or P60. 

You’ll then have to provide information about your housing, rent, your earnings, savings as well as childcare costs. 

How Will You Receive the Money

If you qualify to receive a Universal Credit backdated payment, you should start getting payments up to five weeks after your application has been approved. This backdated payment is also called an “advance” payment and in most cases, the recipient has to pay it back, though there is no interest on it. 

The amount of Universal Credit you will receive is determined by your assessment period, income, and circumstances. Working hours do not affect Universal Credit eligibility, which means you can work and receive payments, but they can affect the amount. 

How to Know if Your Claim Has Been Backdated

All applicants receive letters that inform them whether their request for backdating was approved. 

If they backdate your claim, the letter will state when and how much you will receive, as well as when and how you will be paid. If your application was rejected, the letter will provide a reason for the decision and what you can do to challenge it.

Bottom Line 

Universal Credit is a type of benefits payment that can provide financial assistance to those who are out of work, can’t work, or have low income. If you need an urgent payment and wonder “can Universal Credit be backdated?” the answer is yes, though you will need to provide a good reason to get it.