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How to apply for Universal Credit

We explain how to apply for Universal Credit online, over the phone or in person. Find out how to start your Universal Credit application with a mental health condition.

Claiming Universal Credit can appear daunting, but by following our simple instructions and preparing in advance, you will be in the best position to make the application process smoother.

Before you apply, you should check to see if you're eligible for Universal Credit. If you qualify, there are three ways you can apply for Universal Credit:

  • Online through the GOV.UK website (This is how most people are required to apply).
  • Telephone.
  • Face-to-face through a home visit.

The first stage of the Universal Credit application process will ask you the following questions:

  • If you have a disability.
  • If you are already claiming Universal Credit.

As soon as you claim Universal Credit your other 'legacy benefits' will stop. If you're claiming Housing Benefit at the time of your application, you will receive two extra Housing Benefit payments after your other benefits have finished helping cover your mortgage/rent costs.

When should I apply for Universal Credit?

It usually is best to apply for Universal Credit immediately so that you can receive your first payment as soon as possible. However, there are some situations where delaying your application can be beneficial.

Universal Credit is paid over Assessment Periods - a rolling period of one month which starts each month from the day on which you made your claim. For example, if you began a Universal Credit claim on 15th July, your first Assessment Period would be from 15th July to 14th August.

Your income for the month will be assessed on how much money you received during the previous assessment period - even if that money was earned previously. This can affect the Universal Credit calculation in certain situations:

  • If you're working: Unless you need to, you should apply for Universal Credit five days past your usual payday. This will allow for early or late payments and shouldn't affect your claim.
  • If you have just finished a job: Depending on how long you may have to wait, it may be beneficial to wait until you get your final wages or any holiday pay from work.
  • Redundancy: You can apply as soon as possible if you are only waiting on a redundancy package as this won't be classed as income. It will only affect your first Universal Credit payment if it brings your total savings above £6,000.

Applying for Universal Credit over the phone or in-person

If you can't apply for Universal Credit online, you may be able to apply over the phone or arrange a home visit. You may be eligible for these options if:

  • You have a mental health condition that stops you from applying online.
  • You have a physical disability that stops you from applying online. Such as poor sight.
  • You can't read or write.

To apply over the phone or to request a home visit you need to contact the free Universal Credit helpline - if you need to, someone else can call on your behalf:

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888

Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm

You could be waiting a long time to get through, but the calls are free, so try and be patient. Once you get through, you will need to explain to the person why you can't apply online.

They will ask you some questions to check your eligibility before explaining the next steps of your application.

If you're eligible for a phone application or a home visit the Jobcentre and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will ask you how you would like to be contacted during your Universal Credit claim. This can be by:

  • Text.
  • Phone.
  • Post.
  • Face-to-face.

Applying for Universal Credit online

Applying online is quite simple. You will need to:

  • Enter your postcode (If you don't have a permanent address, you can enter the postcode of your nearest Jobcentre.)
  • Answer a question on if you're currently receiving disability benefits.


If you don't have access to a computer or the internet, you can use both for free at your local Jobcentre, Library or Council.

Applying for Universal Credit online with a partner

If you are making a joint claim with your partner online, you will both need to create separate Universal Credit accounts.

You will need to make a joint Universal Credit claim if you and your partner are married, civil partners or living together as a couple.

During the application process, you will be asked if you live with your partner and given a linking code. Only one of you must request a linking code to link your accounts.

When your partner sets up their account, they will need to enter the linking code you were given to join your accounts.

Once you have both set up an account, you are ready to make a joint claim for Universal Credit.

Creating your Universal Credit username and password

You will then be asked to create a username and password so that you can log in to your Universal Credit account.

For security reasons you should choose a memorable username and password, so you don't need to write these down and won't forget them. If you've made a joint claim, you should keep your username and password private.

You will then be asked several security questions such as 'what was the name of the street you grew up on?' You will be asked these questions when you log in, so make sure they are correct and that you have chosen answers, you will remember.

You will also be asked if you would like to opt in to set up additional extra security to your account called two-factor authentication.

If you do, you will be sent a different code to your mobile phone, and you will need to enter this on your account every time you log in - unless you have logged in on the same device within 24 hours.

How do you want to be contacted about your Universal Credit claim

You will need both an email address and a phone number so that the DWP can contact you about your Universal Credit claim.

You will be asked whether you would prefer to be contacted by email or phone. The DWP will then send you a code. You will need to enter this code when you set up your account above the make a claim button. Once you've entered this, click to make a claim.

What next

Now your Universal Credit account is set up, you will need to answer questions about your situation - known as your 'to-do list'. It would help if you did this as soon as possible, so there are no delays with your application.

Please read our guide on how to fill in your Universal Credit application form, which will explain this in more detail.

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