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Can Universal Credit be backdated?

Can Universal Credit be backdated?
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Can you backdate Universal Credit? Well, yes, but you need a good reason. Let’s break down how the rules around backdating work, starting with the application process.

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How do I apply for Universal Credit?

It’s a fairly simple procedure. 

First, you apply online through the web portal. Then, once you start your application, you have 28 days to verify your identity and complete your claim. You can either verify your ID online or make an appointment with your local Jobcentre. 

If for any reason, you can’t verify your ID within 28 days, you might get your claim backdated. Here’s how it works. 

Can Universal Credit be backdated?

The criteria for backdating Universal Credit are pretty strict. You can only ask to backdate if you couldn’t complete your claim within 28 days due to:

  • disability
  • illness
  • a system failure (i.e. the claims system wasn’t working)
  • switching from a joint claim to a single claim

You can also backdate if the DWP didn’t tell you about benefits like your Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance ending

Why are the criteria for backdating strict? Well, it’s mainly to encourage people to claim as soon as they’re eligible. Vulnerable people are still protected because they can backdate their claim if need be. 

If you couldn’t complete your claim on time due to another good reason, such as bereavement or incapacity, it might still be possible to backdate your payment. The DWP can give you more advice on this. 

When does a backdated claim start?

A backdated payment only covers up to one calendar month before your claim started. Remember, you should complete your claim within 28 days, so a one-month backdated payment is in line with the rules. 

If you’re worried about your finances, or you don’t think you’ll have enough money to live on, contact the DWP right away for more advice.  

How can I backdate my Universal Credit?

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To apply for a backdated payment: 

  • Gather evidence to support your claim. For example, if you were sick, you might ask your doctor to verify this. 
  • Contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644. It’s open from Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm, and it’s free to call.
  • Provide more information if you’re asked to do so.

It’s unclear how long the process takes, but you’ll receive a decision as soon as possible. Your local Jobcentre or the DWP can give you more information on how long applications might take to process right now.


So, can Universal Credit be backdated? In short, yes. However, you’ll need a good reason for not claiming earlier. It’s always best to claim as soon as possible. If you’re struggling to complete your application, don’t delay. Contact the DWP for advice. 

Here’s one final point: If you didn’t claim earlier because the DWP gave you the wrong advice, you should follow their complaints process to resolve the matter. You might also get compensation if you think you lost money through their bad advice. You can ask Citizens Advice for help with this.

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