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Starting your Universal Credit claim

This advice applies to Wales

You should first check if you’re eligible for Universal Credit.

If you’re eligible, you’ll usually have to apply for Universal Credit online on GOV.UK. You’ll then get an online account which you'll use to apply for Universal Credit and keep your claim up to date.

You’ll need an email address and a phone number to create an online account.

You can find out how to get an email address on the Which? website.

Check when to apply

Usually it’s best to apply for Universal Credit as soon as you can. That way you’ll get your first payment sooner.

If you've left your job

It can be worth waiting until you get your final wages or any holiday pay from work.

If you get paid after you apply for Universal Credit, the money will count as income - this means you'll get less in your first Universal Credit payment.

You should apply as soon as you can if you’re only waiting for redundancy pay because it doesn’t count as income. Redundancy pay won’t affect how much you’ll get in your first Universal Credit payment unless it brings your total amount of savings to over £6,000. 

If you’ve been waiting for your last payment from work and need money, it’s best to talk to an adviser before claiming. 

If you can't apply online

You might be able to apply for Universal Credit over the phone or, in exceptional circumstances, arrange for someone to visit you at home.

You can only use these options in certain situations. You might be eligible if you:

  • have problems with your sight
  • have a long term physical disability or mental health condition which stops you from applying online
  • have a physical condition that stops you from using a computer or smartphone
  • can’t read or write

Contact the Universal Credit helpline to ask if you can apply by phone or to arrange a home visit. Someone else can call for you.

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free.

It can take a while to get through to someone. Tell the person you speak to why you can’t apply online. They’ll ask you some questions to check you’re eligible before going through the next steps of the application with you.

If you need help with your Universal Credit application, you can talk to an adviser.

If you’re eligible for a phone claim or home visit

The Jobcentre and the DWP will keep in touch either by:

  • texting
  • phoning
  • sending letters
  • visiting you in person

They’ll ask which is easiest for you when you apply.

Start your online application

You’ll need to apply for Universal Credit online on GOV.UK

You’ll first need to enter your postcode. If you don’t have an address, you can enter the postcode of your nearest Jobcentre.

You can find the address of your nearest Jobcentre on GOV.UK.

You’ll also need to answer a question about whether you’re receiving disability benefits. This is to help the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) work out if you’re eligible for Universal Credit.  

Check if you should apply for Universal Credit if you’re moving from another benefit.

If you don’t have a computer or internet access

You can use the internet and a computer for free at your:

If you have a partner  

If you’re making a claim with your partner and you live with them, you’ll both need separate accounts.

You’ll be asked during the application if you live with your partner. If you do you’ll get a ‘linking code’. When your partner sets up their account they should type in this linking code to join their account to yours.

You shouldn’t create your account at the same time as your partner - it doesn’t matter who creates their account first.

You’ll both be able to log in to your accounts separately.

You’ll need to make a joint claim if you live with your partner and are:

  • married
  • civil partners
  • living together as a couple

You should make a single claim if you’ve separated from your partner but still live with them.

If your partner is under 18, you should make a single claim unless they’re eligible for Universal Credit. If you’re not sure, check if your partner is eligible for Universal Credit as a 16 to 17 year old.

If you're not a UK citizen

If you and your partner are making a joint claim for Universal Credit you both need to be eligible.

If one of you isn’t eligible, the other person can still claim Universal Credit. They should make a joint claim because the DWP need to know about both your incomes. 

The DWP will change your claim to a single claim when they process your application. This means you or your partner will be paid as if you’re a single person. 

If you’re from a country outside of Europe and you rent with your partner, claiming Universal Credit could affect your immigration status. Contact your local Citizens Advice before making an application. 

Creating your username and password

You’ll be asked to make a username and password. You’ll use these to log in to your Universal Credit account.

It’s important that no one else can get into your account without your permission. If you’ve made a joint claim, don’t share your username and password with your partner.

You should make your username and password strong and memorable. You can read how to create a strong and memorable password on GOV.UK.

It's best if you learn your username and password and don't keep them written down anywhere.

You’ll need to answer a couple of security questions like: ‘where were you born?’ or ‘what was the name of the street you grew up on?’ You’ll be asked one of these questions every time you log in to your account.

You’ll be given a 16 digit Personal Security Number (PSN) after your first Universal Credit interview with your ‘work coach’ - you’ll meet them regularly as part of your Universal Credit claim. It’s important to keep the personal security number safe - you’ll need it if you ever need to create a new password.

Choose if you want to be contacted by email or text message

You’ll need to have an email address and phone number so that the DWP can contact you.

Choose an email address and phone number that you use the most.

You’ll be asked how you like to be contacted - email or text. Choose whichever you check the most. After you’ve made your choice, the DWP will send a code to your email address. 

If you haven’t got an email yet, check your spam or junk folder - it might have gone there.

There will be a space when you set up your account above the ‘Make a claim’ button for you to enter the code. After you’ve typed it in, select ‘Make a claim’.

Next steps

Once you’ve set up your account, you’ll need to answer questions about your situation - this is called your 'to-do list'. It’s best to do this as soon as possible, or it might delay your first payment.

Get help answering questions in your Universal Credit application.

If you need help with your Universal Credit application, you can talk to an adviser.

If you’re struggling with costs while claiming Universal Credit

It might be possible to get help from your local council or an interest-free loan from the government. Find out how to get extra help.

If you have a child under the age of 14 or a disabled child, your local council should help you. They might cover essential living costs or find you somewhere to live. Find your local council on GOV.UK.

If you're struggling to pay for food, find out how to get help from a food bank.

Get help from an adviser if you’re struggling with costs while waiting to finish your Universal Credit application.

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