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Who can apply for Universal Credit?

You can apply for Universal Credit in a wide variety of situations. You can apply if you are:

  • unemployed
  • too sick to work
  • a carer

You may also apply for Universal Credit if you are working part-time or full-time. It does not matter whether you work for a company or are self-employed. During this period of Coronavirus you can apply if you are unable to work because you have the virus or are self-isolating or are looking after someone who has the virus or is self-isolating. You may also apply if you are a furloughed worker or self-employed but unable to work due to the pandemic.

Severe Disability Premium (SDP)

From 16 January 2019, customers who are entitled to an award of any existing legacy benefit that includes the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) will no longer be able to claim Universal Credit. If you have had a short break in your legacy benefit that included an SDP in the last month and continue to satisfy the conditions of entitlement to that premium, you will not move to Universal Credit either.

Customers with an SDP will continue to receive the relevant legacy benefit including Housing Benefit.

The SDP is an amount paid to severely disabled people as part of the following legacy benefits:

  • JSA (IB)
  • ESA (IR)
  • IS
  • HB

To qualify you would also need to be in receipt of one of the following disability benefits, and live alone (or be able to be classed as living alone) and no one must be paid Carer’s Allowance (CA) or the UC Carer Element for caring for them:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) care component at the middle or higher rate
  • Personal Independence Payment PIP) daily living component at the standard or enhance rate
  • Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP).

If you ceased to be entitled to the SDP, then you might have to make a claim for Universal Credit depending on your current situation.

People who have already moved onto Universal Credit before 16 January 2019 will stay on Universal Credit and cannot revert back to legacy benefits. There is likely to be some transitional payment for these people in the future.

If you are not sure whether you meet the above criteria, please seek further information and advice.

Living in Temporary or Supported / Specified Accommodation

If you live in this type of accommodation then you can apply for Universal Credit for your day to day living costs, however, you will still need to make a claim for Housing Benefit for help with your rent.  To apply for Housing Benefit please visit the following website:

Young People

You must normally be aged at least 18 to apply for Universal Credit. However, if you are 16 or 17 year-olds then you may be able to apply for Universal Credit, for example:

  • pregnant and within 11 weeks of giving birth
  • a lone parent
  • unable to work due to ill-health/disability
  • a carer of a disabled child or adult

If you are aged 16 or 17 then you may apply for Universal Credit if you are unable to live with your parents because the relationship between you and your parents has broken down or if you must live away from your parents because otherwise there would be a risk to your physical or mental health. These are just examples of the situations young people may apply for Universal Credit. Do seek further information and advice on your right to apply for Universal Credit (and/or other benefits) if you are aged 16/17 and your parents do not receive benefits on your behalf and you have no income.

Students/People in education

If you are studying then your ability to apply for Universal Credit will depend on your age and circumstances and the type of course you are doing. Whilst most people in education are not allowed to apply for Universal Credit it would be wrong to say that anyone in education is unable to apply. Do seek further information and advice as necessary.   

Immigration Status

If you (and/or your partner) are not a British National (you may be an EEA national or a citizen of a country from outside Europe) then you should know that your ability to apply for Universal Credit is dependent upon your immigration status and 'right to reside' in the UK. Therefore, before applying for Universal Credit you should seek specialist advice on your entitlement to Universal Credit.

When you apply you are expected to meet with a "Work Coach" at your local Job Centre Plus and enter into a 'claimant commitment' outlining your work requirements and the steps you will be taking to find work.