What to do after you have claimed Universal Credit
To make sure there are no delays in assessing your claim, there are some things you need to do as soon as possible.
Confirm your identity
When you claim Universal Credit you will be asked to verify (prove) your identity through your Universal Credit online account
You can also verify your identity by phoning the Universal Credit Service Centre to make an appointment at your local Jobs & Benefits office. You will be told what documents you need to bring to confirm your identity.
All Jobs and Benefits offices are now open for business primarily on an appointment basis.
If you arrive without an appointment you will be seen at the Welcome Desk, or an appointment will be arranged for a suitable date and time. You will be asked to observe social distancing, to use hand sanitiser and to wear a face covering.
If you are asked to go to an appointment, it is important you turn up, as failure to do so may affect your payments.
If you are unable to use the telephony or digital services an urgent appointment can be arranged in your local Jobs & Benefits office. To arrange an appointment contact the Universal Credit Service Centre. You should tell them when booking your appointment if you need interpreting support.
Agree your Commitment
To get Universal Credit you will need to agree your commitment through your online account. Your commitment sets out what you need to do to prepare for work, look for work or increase your earnings.
The actions set out in your commitment will depend on things like your health, your responsibilities at home and how much help you need to start working or increase your income.
You will regularly discuss and update your commitment with your work coach and you will need to agree the commitment each time to keep getting Universal Credit.
Your work coach will contact you by telephone to discuss what activities you can do to help you move into employment and to offer support.
You will be given notice of your telephone appointment on your journal. It is important Universal Credit have this conversation with you as part of your application process.
Information needed in the first month of your claim
In the first month of your claim you need to provide:
- details of your childcare costs and childcare provider
- a fit note from your doctor, if you are ill
- details of your rent, if you rent from a private landlord.
- If you rent from a social landlord, for example Northern Ireland Health Executive (NIHE) or a housing association, Universal Credit will get these details directly from them
You will be told through your online account if any more information is needed.
You can watch the Universal Credit Guide on how to upload documents to your Universal Credit account
Report changes in your circumstances
You need to tell Universal Credit about any changes in your circumstances, or your payments may stop or be reduced. Changes that you need to report include change of name, change of address and change of bank account details. For more examples, see changes you need to report.
You can report changes:
- using your Universal Credit online account Messages to your online account will be answered as soon as possible during business hours
- by speaking to your Work Coach at your local Jobs & Benefits office,
- by phoning the Universal Credit Service Centre.
You must tell Universal Credit the date the change happened and provide as much information as possible about the change.
Help until you get your Universal Credit payment
You can get help if you do not have enough money to live on. Contact the Universal Credit Service Centre through your Universal Credit online account, or speak to your work coach at your local Jobs & Benefits office.
There are a few ways to get help while you are waiting on your first Universal Credit payment.
Universal Credit Contingency Fund short term living expenses grant
A Universal Credit Contingency Fund grant is extra Financial Support which may be available if you do not have enough money to live on until you get full payment of your first Universal Credit award and need additional financial support. You will not have to pay this back.
You can get further information on a Universal Credit Contingency Fund grant or you can contact your work coach at your local Jobs & Benefits office.
Universal Credit Advance Loan or Budgeting Advance Loan
A Universal Credit Advance loan or Budgeting Advance loan may be available to help with your living costs or to help pay emergency household costs until you receive your Universal Credit payment. You will have to pay this back from your Universal Credit payments over several months.
Discretionary Support payment
You can get Discretionary Support which is short term financial support paid into your bank account as either an interest-free loan or a grant which you do not have to pay back.
Help with health costs
You may be able to get help with dental, optical and travel costs if you get Universal Credit.
You will not get this help automatically. You will need to complete a Help with Health Costs HC1 form and post it or take it to your local Jobs & Benefits office.
You will not get help with these costs until after you send the form and get confirmation that you are eligible.
If your application is successful, you will be issued a certificate which will entitle you to either:
- full remission of health costs for a 12 month period (HC2 certificate)
- partial remission of health costs for a 12 month period (HC3 certificate)
You can also get an HC1 form by going to your local Jobs & Benefits office or by calling the helpline on Freephone 0800 012 1331.
More information is available on Help with Health Costs
Help with Childcare costs
If paying upfront for registered childcare is preventing you from starting work, help may be available.
You can find further information on how to claim upfront childcare costs from the Adviser Discretion Fund. You can also get help from your local Jobs and Benefits office or speak with your work coach.
Further information on support is also available at Employers for Childcare.