Universal Credit: Is Universal Credit backdated?

Universal Credit is a benefit payment for people out of work or on low income and is usually paid once a month to help you cover your living costs. Universal Credit replaced six benefits when introduced; Housing Benefit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Income Support.

Is Universal Credit backdated?

You can apply to get a Universal Credit payment to cover up to one month before you started your claim.

This process is called backdating.

However, very few can claim backdating and you will need a good reason for not claiming earlier.


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For example, this could be because:

  • of an illness – you’ll have to show the DWP medical evidence for this
  • of a disability
  • you weren’t told your Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was going to end
  • the online claims system was down, and you claimed as soon as it was working again
  • you’ve made a new claim as a single person after breaking up with your partner – check what to do if you’re in this situation
  • you made a joint claim that ended because your partner didn’t accept the claimant commitment – you should now be claiming as a single person

If you need help to pay your bills or cover other costs while you wait for your first Universal Credit payment, you can apply to get an advance.

The most you can get as an advance is the amount of your first estimated payment.

You can apply for an advance payment in your online account or through your Jobcentre Plus work coach.

You will need to explain why you need an advance, verify your identity and provide bank account details for the advance.

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You will usually find out the same day if you can get an advance.

You start paying the advance back out of your first payment, however, it’s your choice how many months you pay the advance back over as long as it doesn’t exceed 12 months.

The advance you receive will not have pay interest on it meaning the total amount you pay back is the same.

How much you get depends, but it’s possible to get up to 100 percent of your estimated Universal Credit payment.

For example, if your first estimated payment is £256.05 and you get £256.05 as an advance.

You choose to pay back your advance over 12 months, which is £21.33 per month.

You’ll get £234.72 on your first payment date – this is your first payment minus the bit you’re repaying so £256.05 minus £21.33).

The smallest amount you can borrow is £100.

You might be refused an advance if you:

  • have not had your identity checked at the Jobcentre
  • have enough money to last until your payment of Universal Credit
  • live with parents, relatives or friends
  • have any final earnings or redundancy payments
  • have any accessible savings

You can call the Universal Credit helpline if you want to backdate your claim on 0800 328 5644.

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