What is Universal Credit? How can I claim it? Am I eligible? You may qualify to receive monthly payments through this benefit. You likely qualify if you are currently unemployed. This Your Benefits article will tell you everything you need to know about this benefit.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a benefit mean to help cover living costs. Indeed, it is paid monthly. This is different for people living in Scotland, as for them, Universal Credit payments are received bi-monthly.
If you are struggling financially, you could receive a Universal Credit advance payment. This would be up to 100% of your first estimated Universal Credit payment, paid before your first payment.
Will Universal Credit impact my other benefits?
Universal Credit is a benefit that is replacing other legacy benefits. Indeed, it is replacing the following:
- Working Tax Credit;
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA);
- Housing Benefit;
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA);
- Child Tax Credit;
- Income Support.
You may already be earning these benefits. If this is the case, not to worry. You do not need to do anything more. This is unless one of the following happens:
- Your circumstances changed and they must be reported;
- You are contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about earning Universal Credit instead of your current benefit.
Am I eligible for Universal Credit?
ZIn order to be eligible for Universal Credit, some things need to be true. You must be on a low income, or require help in order to cover your living costs. Additionally, you could also be out of work, or in part-time work, or self-employed.
Furthermore, the following must be true:
- You have fewer than £16,000 in investments, savings and money;
- You are younger than the State Pension age, and;
- Are 18 years or older (there are exceptions for which 16 and 17 year old applicants may qualify);
- You currently reside in the UK.
You might live in either a European, European Economic Area country or in Switzerland. If this is the case, you might qualify. Indeed, you could get Universal Credit, if you and your family have either a settled or pre-settled status, you could earn the benefit.
You may be eligible for Universal Credit, but also for other benefits. Then, Your Benefits can help. Indeed, we offer a free service that shows you exactly how much money in aid you could get. Additionally, our advisers are available to help you save on all of your bills.
What if I am limited in my ability to work?
You may be limited in your ability to work. In this case, you will have to undergo a Universal Credit Work Capability Assessment. Indeed, this will look at whether or not you can work now or anytime in the future.
If you are found to have a limited ability to work, then your Universal Credit claim may be adapted. If you will be able to work in the future, or are able to work, you could get the benefit. However, you will have to adhere to a ‘Claimant Commitment’.
Indeed, this will describe steps you can take to find work. As long as you do what your Claimant Commitment asks you to do to find work, you will be able to keep receiving Universal Credit payments.
You may wonder what other benefits you can get. Then, Your Benefits can help. Indeed, do not hesitate to click on the links in this article to learn more about Universal Credit, as well as other benefits you could be entitled to.
What about exceptions and other circumstances?
You may live with a partner. In this case, both of you will need to claim Universal Credit. Indeed, your application will be in the form of a joint claim. This is regardless of whether your partner qualifies or not.
You may be in a full-time education. If this is the case, one of the following must also be true for you:
- The partner you live with is below State Pension age while you are at or older than State Pension age;
- You as one person or a couple have the responsibility of a child;
- The partner you live with qualifies for Universal Credit.
You may also be under 21 years old, and currently studying an A level qualification or under, while not being supported financially by parents. In this case, you can claim the benefit.
You may also be studying in a part-time course, or your course makes you unable to earn financial help or student loans. In this case, you may also qualify for the benefit.
What about students with health conditions, disabilities or under 18 years old?
You may be in full-time education while being limited in your ability to work. In this case, if you are entitled to one of the following benefits, you might qualify for Universal Credit:
- Attendance Allowance;
- Armed Forces Independence Payment;
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA);
- Child Disability Payment (CDP) in Scotland;
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Additionally, you may be either 16 or 17 years old. If this is the case, you may apply for Universal Credit if one of the following is true for you. You:
- Do not benefit from any parental support (this may include not being under local authority care, or living in your parents’ home);
- Had a baby within the past 15 weeks;
- Are currently pregnant, and the baby is expected to be born within 11 weeks;
- Your partner lives with you, is eligible for Universal Credit, and you are responsible for a child;
- You are responsible for a child;
- A person with a severe disability is under your care;
- You have both a disability or health condition, and proof of it (this can be a fit note, for example).
How much is Universal Credit in 2022?
You may wonder how much Universal Credit you could get. Universal Credit consists of two different things. First, there is a standard allowance, which is a monthly payment that you will receive. Second is any additional payments you receive for certain circumstances or conditions. They may include:
- Requiring help to pay for your rent;
- Being unable to work because of a health condition or disability;
- Taking care of children.
One of the biggest factors that will affect your Universal Credit is your earnings. Below is a table informing you how much standard allowance you may earn. Indeed, depending on your situation, you would earn different rates of Universal Credit:
|Universal Credit standard allowance rates in 2022|
|Your personal circumstance||Standard allowance rate (per month)|
|You have a partner, and at least one of you is 25 years or older||£509.91 (for the couple)|
|You have a partner, and you are both younger than 25 years old||£403.93 (for the couple)|
|You are younger than 25 years old and single||£257.33|
|You are 25 years or older and single||£324.84|
How can I claim Universal Credit?
Applying for Universal Credit has never been this easy. In fact, you apply for Universal Credit online, on your online account. You will need to create an account and make your claim for this benefit within 28 days.
Living with a partner means you will both have to create an account for yourself. Moreover, once you have made your claim, you will be able to join both your accounts together. If you are unable to apply online, you may do so by phone, by contacting the Universal Credit helpline.
What is a ‘Claimant Commitment’?
A ‘Claimant Commitment‘ is an agreement that you work out with your work coach. It assures that you will be working in order to be finding a job. Some activities that this includes can be:
- Undertaking training courses;
- Looking for and applying to jobs;
- Making your resume.
You may be claiming this benefit with your partner. If this is the case, you will both have your Claimant Commitment. They will both outline your own responsibilities.
Note that you will need to go to appointments with your work coach regularly. This can be face to face, in person or via video. Not going to one of these appointments could trigger a sanction, and affect your payments of this benefit.
What if I have children or need help with childcare costs?
You may have children, or require help covering costs incurred by childcare. If this is the case, you may earn both additional Universal Credit payments, as well as have different conditions apply to you.
At 1 year old, the same is true, but you will need to contact your work coach by phone. At 2 years old, the phone calls have to be more regular, and you must anticipate having a job.
What if I need help covering childcare costs?
You may need help in covering costs that arise from paying childcare. If this is the case, you need to do two things:
- Keep track of how much you pay for childcare and report it;
- Have proof that you indeed paid your childcare provider.
Proof may include either a contract or invoice. They must contain the contact details and registration number of your childcare provider. Additionally, you must provide proof for the following information:
- The dates of childcare that are covered by your payments;
- The dates on which the payments were made;
- How much the payments amount to.
Proof may include invoices provided by your childcare provider, receipts or bank statements. Childcare costs and proof of said costs can be entered on your online Universal Credit account.
You may pay for childcare costs in advance. If this is the case, you may apply to be covered for these costs up to 3 months in advance. Then, you will receive payments for them through Universal Credit in the month that you receive the childcare. What can be paid back will usually be paid back the next time that you receive payments.
You can learn more on Citizens Advice. They are a charity and not company limited by guarantee. Like this website, they do not track visitors across websites. They have a benefits calculator, and their website can improve the experience of our website.