factchecking myths and misconceptions about universal credit

“There’s no way a claim will be backdated”

The short answer:

Wrong! Claims can be backdated ... but it’s not easy

Your date of claim is usually when your online or phone claim is received by the DWP, or if you have received assistance from the DWP or other services acting on behalf of the DWP, on the date you first told them you needed help.

Backdating your claim date for up to a month is possible, although there are limited circumstances for when this will be successful (and for joint claimants both of you must meet the rules). These include if you are late claiming because of illness or disability, not being told your jobseeker’s allowance or employment and support allowance had ended, or reclaiming after separating. DWP guidance on backdating has the full list of circumstances that can lead to backdating.

Tip: Make sure you (and your partner if they are claiming with you) give as much information about why your claim is late, such as medical evidence if you are relying on your illness or disability as a reason for lateness.

Backdating request refused?

If the reason for your late claim is not accepted or doesn’t fit the backdating rules, but you have lost out because of errors made by the DWP or another government agency, consider making a complaint and ask for compensation for any losses you have suffered. Improve your complaint’s chances of success by seeking advice or contacting your MP.

Law and case law:

Regulation 26 of the Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013 sets out the rules for when universal credit claims can be backdated.

Official guidance:

Chapter A2 of Advice for Decision Makers (paragraphs A2043 to A2049) explains how universal credit claims can be backdated.

Need more help?

If you need help in finding out more about your rights and the options available to you, do consider contacting a local independent advice organisation. 

Enter a postcode on our advicelocal site to find details of advice organisations in your area. They will usually be able to offer free advice and support, and help to answer any questions you have.

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