Make and manage your claim

Once you open your Universal Credit claim online, you have 28 days to submit it. Universal Credit is assessed monthly and paid in arrears. Your first Assessment Period only begins when you submit your claim. You will get your first payment seven days after the end of your first Assessment Period.

How to claim

To claim, you must create a Universal Credit account online.  You can find important information on how to create an account and make your claim at

Your responsibilities

It is your responsibility to make sure the information you provide is accurate when claiming Universal Credit. 

Verifying your identity

Universal Credit cannot be paid until your identity has been verified. 

When you make a claim we will ask you to verify your identity.  You can do this online at Gov.uk Verify (GOV.UK)

If you can’t verify your identity online, you can make an appointment to do it at your local Jobs and Benefits office.  We will tell you what documents you need to verify your identity.

Your Commitment

As part of your claim you will need to accept your ‘Commitment’. You will create and agree this with your Work Coach.

Your Commitment will set out the tasks you have agreed to do to prepare for work, look for work or increase your earnings. This may include:

  • going to interviews in your local Jobs & Benefits office
  • preparing a CV
  • going on a training course or employment programme
  • applying for jobs
  • registering with a recruitment agency

The tasks you agree to will depend on things such as your health, your responsibilities at home and how much help you need to get to work or to increase your income. Your Commitment will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Sanctions

Your Universal Credit payment may be reduced or stopped if you do not meet the responsibilities in your Commitment and you cannot give a good reason to explain why. This is known as a 'sanction'. With a sanction, you will be told how much of your Universal Credit payment you will lose and for how long.

If you are the lead carer

If you are responsible for a child or children and do not have a partner, you will be regarded as the lead carer. If you are a couple responsible for a child or children you will need to nominate a lead carer. This is so your Commitment can be tailored to your personal circumstances.

Age of youngest child Lead carer’s 'Commitment'
Under one  You do not need to look for work 
One If you are not already working, you will be asked to go to interviews to discuss plans for a future move into work
Two You will be expected to take active steps to prepare for work - what this involves will be agreed between you and your Work Coach and will depend on your circumstances, but might include some training and work-focused interviews
Three to 12 You will be expected to look for work in line with your caring responsibilities, for example during your child’s school hours
13 and above You will normally be expected to look for full time work

If your child has exceptional care needs this will be reflected in your Commitment. 

Payments

Universal Credit is normally paid twice a month to a household and you will need to budget for this. However, you may request a monthly payment. A household can be a single person, a couple or a family.

Your circumstances change

If you get Universal Credit and your circumstances change, you must report this change through your online account:

Changes can include:

  • finding or finishing a job
  • having or caring for a child
  • a change to your address
  • a change to your bank details
  • your rent going up or down
  • becoming too ill to work or meet your Work Coach

Your Universal Credit may be stopped or reduced if you don’t report changes in your circumstances straight away.

You don’t need to report any changes to your earned income or other benefits. 

You will still need to report changes in other income, including:

  • private/occupational pension
  • Mortgage Payment Protection policy income
  • income from annuities
  • self-employed income 

Reclaiming Universal Credit

Your Universal Credit online account will remain open for six months after your claim ends. 

If you need to claim Universal Credit within six months of your previous claim ending, you can log in to your Universal Credit online account to claim again.

When you log in to your Universal Credit account, the claim will show your circumstances on the date you last got Universal Credit. You just need to confirm that the details in your account are correct to claim again.

However, if you have had a change of circumstances since your last Universal Credit claim you will be required to update your Universal Credit online account to declare this and verify your information.

If you qualify for Universal Credit again, you will continue to keep the same monthly Assessment Period as you had in your previous claim.

You will also need to speak to your Work Coach if there is a gap in your Universal Credit payments and you need help to budget and manage your money more effectively.

If you need to claim Universal Credit and it’s more than six months since your previous claim ended, you will need to make a new claim.

Support from your work coach

Your Work Coach will support you to fulfil your potential throughout your time on Universal Credit.  They will also mentor and coach you to help you meet the tailored requirements recorded in your commitment.

You will have an online account to manage your claim, which is available to you 24 hours a day, to report changes, send messages to your Work Coach and get support. You can also arrange to meet with your Work Coach in your local Jobs and Benefits office.

If you are able to look or prepare for work, you will be expected to do regular work search activity, or work preparation actions to receive Universal Credit, you will discuss and agree these activities with your Work Coach.

Work preparation activity could include preparing a CV or attending and completing a training course. You could also be expected to attend regular interviews with your Work Coach to discuss your progress.

Your Work Coach will be able to give you advice and support to reach your work goals and signpost you to relevant support areas including help with budgeting issues.

Make a claim to Universal Credit

If you have not yet created a Universal Credit account you can create an account at: 

SMS messages

When claiming Universal Credit you may receive text messages (SMS) from the Department for Communities (DfC). They will always be clearly marked as DfC and will never ask you to give, or click a link to give, personal information or financial details by message or email.

If you’re concerned or unsure about any text messages (SMS) you receive from about Universal Credit you should contact your local Jobs and Benefits office directly. If you suspect you have received a fraudulent message as a scam, please contact your local Jobs and Benefits office immediately.

  • Further information is available at: scamwiseni

Consent and Disclosure of Information

You have full access to information held on your account. If a representative asks you for information about your claim, you can locate and provide the information yourself. 

If you feel unable to find the information or understand more complex issues, you may ask a representative to contact Department for Communities (DfC) on your behalf to obtain the information.

You must give your permission to allow a representative or organisation to:

  • act for you
  • have access to relevant information about you

This permission is called explicit consent.

Explicit consent can be provided by you using your online journal, over the telephone or face to face.

Certain information can never be released under any circumstances.

Information videos

A series of videos help explain the key stages in the Universal Credit customer journey.

If you use sign language,  you can watch these videos in British or Irish Sign Language at the links below and follow the link on the page to the relevant video numbered 1-9:

Help and Support

If you would like independent help and advice on Universal Credit or any of the other welfare changes, you can visit any independent advice office or contact:

More useful links

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