Who can make a claim for universal credit?

Updated on 12 April 2023

Tax credits and benefits

Universal Credit (UC) is gradually replacing tax credits and some other benefits. You cannot claim tax credits and UC together. If you already get tax credits and make a claim for UC, your tax credit claim will end. This page explains who is eligible to submit a claim for UC.

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If I claim, will I receive a payment of universal credit?

This page explains who is eligible to claim UC. Even if you are eligible to claim, it does not necessarily mean you will be entitled to UC as you have to meet certain basic and financial conditions and then any amount you receive is based on your income, capital and circumstances.

To find out about the basic and financial conditions, visit our website for advisers.

Can I claim universal credit?

Universal credit is fully available in all parts of the UK, this means that most people are eligible to submit a claim for UC (although that does not mean they will be entitled to UC).

If you are single and have reached your state pension credit qualifying age or are part of a couple and you have both reached your state pension credit qualifying age, you will not be able to claim UC and will not have any entitlement to UC as there is an upper age limit, although you may be able to claim pension credit, depending on your circumstances.

Most mixed age couples, where one person has reached state pension credit age but the other has not, will only be able to claim UC. This is because most mixed age couples can no longer claim pension credit. However there is one exception to this for mixed age couples who were in receipt of pension age housing benefit on 14 May 2019 (and have continued to receive it).

Can I still make a claim for tax credits?

HMRC state that it is no longer possible to make a brand new claim for tax credits. The only exception to this is for certain people who are granted refugee status. If you already get working tax credit and want to claim child tax credit or vice versa, you can do so as this is not treated as a brand new claim to tax credits. You can contact HMRC to have the other elements added to your claim.

Similarly, if you are renewing your tax credit claim, that doesn’t count as a brand new claim. Also, if you receive working tax credit which ends and you receive a four-week run-on payment, if you start work again or increase your working hours during that four-week period your entitlement to WTC should continue.

What if I am already claiming tax credits: when will I move to UC?

Existing tax credit claimants will be affected by the introduction of UC if they have a change of circumstances that means they need to make a new claim, they need to claim other support which is now provided through UC rather than the other legacy benefits, for example help with housing costs or they choose to claim UC. You can read more detail about how tax credit claimants are affected by UC on our tax credits and universal credit page.

DWP and HMRC re-started the formal process to move people to UC in May 2022. The plans to complete the move have changed several times and the most recent planning suggests that most tax credit claimants who have not reached their state pension age and have not already moved to UC will be issued with a migration notice, by the end of 2024.

The formal migration exercise, for people who do not move voluntarily or due to a change in circumstances, will involve DWP writing to existing tax credit claimants with a migration notice that asks them to make a claim for UC by a certain deadline date. If they do not, the tax credit claim will end the day before the deadline date. Those who are moved to UC through this managed migration process may receive transitional protection if their UC award is less than the total of their legacy benefits at the point that they are moved over – which is the Government’s way of ensuring there are, broadly, no cash losers at the point of change without a change of circumstances.

Not all tax credit claimants will move to UC – if you have reached your state pension credit age (or in a joint claim both of you have reached state pension credit age) you will not be able to claim UC. The intention is that you will claim pension credit for support. There is also an exception for a small number of mixed age couples who are still able to claim pension credit. See our tax credits and universal credit page for more details.

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