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Last updated:
19/06/2020

How to fill in your Universal Credit application form

We explain how to fill in your Universal Credit online application form and help you answer the questions in the to-do list. Find out what you need to do to complete your Universal Credit application form.

Before you apply, you should check to see if you're eligible for Universal Credit.

To apply for Universal Credit online, you must first set up an online account, which will be used to apply for the benefit and manage your claim.

Once you have done this, there are four more steps to complete your Universal Credit application:

  1. Answer questions on the to-do list about your situation.
  2. Confirm your identity.
  3. Book an appointment with your local Jobcentre.
  4. Attend your face-to-face appointment.

How to prepare before answering the to-do list

The to-do list will ask you several questions about your situation, income, savings and expenses. This allows the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to decide how much Universal Credit you are entitled to.

Before you answer these questions, you should gather the relevant information to help with your Universal Credit application. You will need the following information for yourself and your partner if you're making a joint claim:

  • National Insurance number.
  • Postcode.
  • The type of accommodation you live in (for example private rental, council tenancy or housing association tenancy).
  • How much rent or mortgage you pay monthly.
  • Any service charges you pay on your home.
  • Your landlord's contact details.
  • Your bank, building society, credit union or Post Office card account details.
  • The amount you earn from work (such as recent payslips, or accounts or receipts if you're self-employed).
  • Any income that's not from work (for example a pension or insurance plan).
  • Any savings or other capital you have (for example shares or property).
  • How much you pay for childcare (if you want to claim childcare costs).
  • Child benefit reference numbers (you can find these on letters to you about child benefit - they start with 'CHB').
  • Details of any other benefits you're getting.

Bank account

To claim Universal Credit you must have a bank, building society, credit union or Post Office account. If you're making a joint claim, only one of you will need an account.

You will be able to use a relatives or friends bank account for your first payment with their permission. However, you will need your own account before your second payment - you can update your bank details on your account at any time.

If you have been refused an application to open a bank account, you will need to apply for the Payment Exception Service.

How to fill in your to-do list for Universal Credit

To fill in your to-do list for Universal Credit, you will need to log in to your Universal Credit account.

Once in your account, you will see a to-do list which has all the questions you need to answer - you will need to complete this before submitting your claim.

You don't have to complete this in one go; your account will remember all of your details as long as you have pressed save.

If you're making a joint claim with your partner, it is best to link your accounts before filling in the to-do list.

Questions on your situation

You will be required to answer questions in the following sections of the to-do list:

  • Nationality.
  • Where you live and who lives with you.
  • Your work.
  • Your income and savings.
  • Your education and training.
  • Your health.
  • Your children and anyone else you care for.
  • Your bank details.

When answering the questions within each section, make sure all names and numbers are correct - you will need to enter the pennies for questions relating to money.

If you're unsure of something, find out the correct information before entering. If you put incorrect information, there may be a delay to your application or you may be paid the wrong amount. This is vital as you can't edit your answers until you've finished all other sections.

Housing

When answering the section about where you live and who lives with you situational questions, you will need to provide the following details:

  • The address you live at.
  • When you moved to that address.
  • Your living situation.
  • Do you own your house?
  • Do you rent from a private landlord, the council or housing association?
  • Housing costs.
  • How much rent do you pay?
  • How much are your mortgage payments if you own your home.
  • If applicable, how much do you pay for service charges?
  • Bedrooms.
  • How many do you have? Make sure this is what is advertised on your tenancy agreement.
  • Tenancy agreement.
  • Who is on the contract?
  • If it's a joint tenancy, how much do you all pay?
  • Your landlord's address and phone number if you rent.
  • Council tax.
  • Do you pay council tax?
  • Do you receive a reduction or exemption?

Living situation and housing costs

You will need to answer questions on your living situation and housing costs as a private owner or someone who rents their home.

You will have to enter any housing costs you pay, which includes:

  • Monthly rent cost.
  • Monthly mortgage cost.
  • Any service charges or ground rent.

Service charges are what you have to pay outside of your rent for maintenance work in communal areas such as decorating the reception walls, cleaning or gardening.

If you rent a property and are unsure about service charges, you should check your tenancy agreement or ask your landlord. You will be asked to provide evidence of these.

When entering the amount of rent you pay, make sure you put down the full amount of rent, including any top-up you pay, but not any amount you pay to cover arrears.

For example, if you receive £200 of Housing Benefit a month and you pay £350 rent a month, you will need to put your total rent as £550.

You will also need to enter if you receive any rent-free weeks as part of your tenancy agreement - you may get this if you rent from a council or housing association.

When asked how many bedrooms you have at your home, make sure you enter the correct number as stated on your tenancy agreement.

Check the tenancy agreement

You will also need to enter the type of tenancy you have. If you don't know if you rent from a council, a housing association or a private landlord you should ask your landlord.

If you rent privately and are unsure of any details, you should look at your tenancy agreement. If you can't find it or don't have one, you can look at emails, documents or letters detailing your tenancy.

If you rent through the council or a housing association you can contact their customer service department who will give you the information you require.

If you have a joint tenancy, you will need to show the breakdown of how much you all pay for your home.

Your Landlord's details

If you rent your home you will be asked to provide your landlord's details so the DWP can confirm the amount of rent you pay each month - this may appear automatically if you rent from a council or housing association.

You will need to provide the following for your landlord:

  • Name.
  • Address.
  • Contact phone number.
  • Email address (this is only required if you don't provide the landlord's address and phone number).

Council Tax

You are required to give information on Council Tax. You will be asked:

  • If your name is on the Council Tax bill.
  • If you have applied for a Council Tax Reduction or Exemption.

If you have a mental health condition and claim Universal Credit, you may be entitled to a Council Tax Reduction or Exemption.

If you are planning to apply for a Council Tax Reduction or Exemption or you already receive one, the DWP will inform the council that you're applying for Universal Credit.

Health

In this section, you will be asked if you have any disability, illness or ongoing health conditions that impact your ability to work or look for work.

You will have to answer:

  • The last time you had a job if you are currently unemployed.
  • If you've been in hospital recently or you're having medical treatment.

If your mental health condition has meant you had to take time off work, you should include this.

Even if you're currently working, if your mental health restricts your ability to work, or look for further work, you should mention this. You will not need to specify anything which hasn't affected your ability to work.

When you will need to provide a 'fit note'

You will need to provide evidence of any physical or mental health condition you have put down. You can ask your doctor to confirm that this condition affects your ability to work with a fit note - known as a doctors note.

This will need to have a start and end period and be stamped and signed by your doctor.

If the doctor doesn't confirm your condition with a fit note, you will need to remove the condition from your application.

How to get a 'fit note' from the doctor

If you have been off sick and already have a fit note you can upload this to the system immediately.

If you don't have a fit note you will have seven days from the date you submit your claim to upload the details into your account - you should make an appointment immediately as this can take a while.

If you are in hospital, you can request a fit note from your hospital.

Once you have done this, you will need to enter your doctors or medical practices contact details. Then you will need to answer if you permit your doctor to be contacted by the DWP to discuss your health - you should tick yes to this, as your claim may be delayed if you select no.

You will need a paper copy of your fit note when you attend your Universal Credit Jobcentre interview.

You can also request written evidence to support your claim. Medical evidence is crucial when applying for Universal Credit and usually takes the form of a letter/report from your GP, psychiatrist, consultant or other healthcare professional. Use our free requesting medical evidence for Universal Credit template to get started.

If you have a long term mental health illness - you have been ill for more than four weeks - you may need to attend a medical assessment. Find out more about applying for Universal Credit with a mental health condition.

Work, income and savings

This section will focus on your work situation and if you have any other income or savings.

Work and income

You will have to answer if you work or are self-employed - you will need to answer further questions about your work when you attend your Universal Credit interview at the Jobcentre - or if you have any other income such as pensions or insurance plans.

You will also need to include any leave pay you may receive from your employer such as:

  • Sick pay.
  • Holiday pay.
  • Maternity pay.

Savings and investments

You will need to enter any savings you have in your bank account or any other investments or capital you have. This can include:

  • Company shares you have.
  • Rental property you own and don't live in.
  • Redundancy pay.

It's important to understand that if you have more than £16,000 in savings, then you won't be able to claim Universal Credit.

Childcare costs

When claiming Universal Credit, you can receive up to 85% of your childcare costs if:

  • You currently work.
  • You have worked in the last two months.
  • You are planning to return to work in the next two months.

With Universal Credit, you can claim back childcare costs once you have paid for them. To do this, you will need to provide the DWP with the following for your childcare provider:

  • Their address and phone number.
  • Their Childcare registration number.
  • How much you paid and the dates.
  • Which dates the childcare costs cover.
  • Which child or children your childcare provider looks after.

You will need to provide evidence of your childcare costs within one month of submitting your claim.

The invoice must say paid and be official with the childcare providers company name. You can upload this on to your account via a photo, scan or screenshot - you can also take this to your Jobcentre interview.

If you care for someone

You will also be asked if you care for someone with a physical or mental health condition or disability.

If you are a carer for someone with a mental health condition, you will be asked what disability benefits the person you care for gets and how many hours you spend caring for them each week.

This will allow the DWP to work out if you are entitled to extra money as part of your Universal Credit payment as a carer.

However, getting this extra money may affect the benefits of the person you care for receives. If you want more advice to understand the impact you should speak to a local welfare benefits advisor before applying.

Once you have finished your to-do list

Once you have completed your to-do list as part of your declaration, you will need to agree that all information you have provided is correct.

You will be asked to check through thoroughly your answers and select 'Yes' if correct for each section. If you tick 'No' you will have the opportunity to edit the information before submitting your Universal Credit claim.

If your situation has changed

If your situation has changed, you must update the information on your account as soon as possible. This is important as your Universal Credit payment can be stopped or reduced if the details are incorrect.

If your health situation has changed, you will be required to answer additional questions about this. For instance, you may need to upload a fit note from your doctor, proving your change in health.

Confirm your identity

You will need to verify who you are using the Government's online system called 'Verify'. To do this, you will need:

  • A UK Passport.
  • Valid UK driving licence or provisional licence.

You can use the following websites to verify who you are:

  • Barclays.
  • Digidentity.
  • Experian.
  • Post Office.
  • SecureIdentity.

If you are having trouble verifying who you are online, you can confirm your identity in person at the Jobcentre by selecting the 'Verify your identity' in your online account and clicking on 'I can't do this online'.

What next

Once you have submitted the information required online, you will need to complete the following steps before you can complete your Universal Credit claim:

  1. Book an interview with the Jobcentre.
  2. Complete any new tasks in your to-do list (these must be completed before your appointment with the Jobcentre).
  3. Attend your Jobcentre interview.

Jobcentre Interview

Once you have submitted your online claim, you will be provided with a number to call and make an appointment with your local Jobcentre.

You will need to attend a face-to-face interview where you will be required to collect evidence to answer questions at your interview.

At the face-to-face assessment, you will need to agree to a Claimant Commitment - this sets out what you have to do to continue to receive Universal Credit. If you are making a joint claim, you must both agree to a Claimant Commitment.

If the claimant commitment has been signed, the start date of your Universal Credit claim will be the date you submitted your details online.

Keeping your online journal up to date

After submitting your online claim, you should continue to log in and check your online journal and to-do list.

For the first month, you should expect the DWP to ask further questions about your situation to help them best calculate the correct amount of Universal Credit to pay you.

Your first payment

After submitting your claim fully, you will have to wait five weeks to receive your first Universal Credit payment.

If you need financial help during this period, you can apply for an advanced payment of Universal Credit - a loan which you will have to pay back through deductions from your Universal Credit.

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