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Can I claim Universal Credit?

Whether you can claim Universal Credit (UC) is dependent on your circumstances. Find out if you meet the criteria for Universal Credit set out by The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Universal Credit eligibility?

To claim Universal Credit, you must meet the following Universal Credit criteria:

  • You're on a low income or currently unemployed,
  • You're 18 or over (however, exceptions may apply for people aged 16 and 17),
  • You or your partner are under the State Pension age,
  • You and your partner have less than £16,000 in combined savings,
  • You live in the UK.

You are unable to claim Universal Credit if you're a:

  • Member of a religious order,
  • Prisoner,
  • Serving a prison sentence in a psychiatrist hospital on a section 45A or 47 of the Mental Health Act 1983. However, if you are still detained in the hospital when your prison sentence ends, you may be able to claim benefits as a hospital patient.


The number of children you have does not affect your eligibility to claim Universal Credit, but it can change how much you receive.

When will I have to claim Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is available throughout the country. You will only need to claim Universal Credit if you are making a new claim for benefits.

However, there are a few circumstances where you will not need to claim Universal Credit if you are making a new claim for benefits:

  • You are claiming ‘New Style’ ESA, Contribution - Based ESA, New Style’ JSA, or Contribution-Based JSA instead. But sometimes you might be eligible for Universal Credit at the same time as these other benefits.
  • You are in receipt of a Severe Disability Premium or you have received the Severe Disability Premium within the last month and you’re still eligible for it.

Claiming Universal Credit as a couple

If you have a partner, you will be making a joint claim as a couple. If one of you does not meet the Universal Credit eligibility criteria set out above, they will not be considered.

However, your partner's income and savings will be considered, despite them not being eligible for Universal Credit.

How is low income or combined savings calculated for Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit, meaning that any savings, capital or income you have will affect your claim.

Capital means how much your assets, shares or investments are worth – the DWP will not count your home and business as assets.

Savings means the money you have in your bank, building society, post office accounts, cash or ISAs.

Universal Credit work allowance 

A work allowance is the amount that you can earn before your Universal Credit payment is affected.

You will be eligible for a work allowance if you (and/or your partner) either have:

The monthly work allowance rates are:

  • If you do not receive support with housing costs, the work allowance is £573.
  • If you get help with housing costs, it is £344 per month.

Earnings above the work allowance

For every £1 you earn above your work allowance, you will get 55p less Universal Credit.

This means that you will keep 45p of every £1 you earn above the work allowance.

Can I claim Universal Credit if I'm 16 or 17?

Usually, you need to be 18 or over to claim Universal Credit. However, there are a few circumstances where you may be able to claim if you are aged 16 or 17 and:

  • You have a limited capability for work, or you have medical evidence and are waiting for a Work Capability Assessment.
  • You're a carer for a severely disabled person.
  • You're fully responsible for a child.
  • You and your partner are responsible for a child, and your partner is eligible for Universal Credit.
  • You are pregnant, and it's 11 weeks or less before the due date of your child.
  • You've given birth in the last 15 weeks.
  • You do not have parental support.

If you think you may be eligible to claim Universal Credit as a 16 or 17-year-old, we recommend you speak to a welfare adviser.

Can I claim Universal Credit with a disability?

Most people with a mental or physical illness/disability can claim Universal Credit. However, If you are entitled to Severe Disability Premium, you can't claim Universal Credit.

Can I claim Universal Credit if I'm in a couple and one of us is over the State Pension age?

If either yourself or your partner is under State Pension age and eligible for Universal Credit, you can make a claim - your Universal Credit will stop when you both reach State Pension age.

If you are both over State Pension age, you may be able to apply for Pension Credit. We recommend you speak to a welfare adviser, who can help you more.

Can I claim Universal Credit if I already claim a legacy benefit?

If you currently receive legacy benefits, you will automatically lose them - and will not be able to get them in the future - if you apply for Universal Credit.

The six legacy benefits Universal Credit has replaced are:

Tip on Legacy Benefits

If you get a legacy benefit, seek advice from a Welfare and Benefits advisor before claiming Universal Credit for the first time.

You may be better or worse off under Universal Credit depending on your circumstances.

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