Making a claim

Anyone can in principle make a claim to Universal Credit, although you may be advised to check the basic conditions of entitlement before doing so.

If you already receive Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit, we would strongly recommend seeking independent advice first, as making a claim to Universal Credit will result in you losing any existing entitlement.

Can I make a claim?

Universal Credit is a working age, low income benefit for people both in and out of work. The main eligibility criteria are that the claimant:

  • is legally resident in Northern Ireland,
  • is aged 18 or over,
  • is under State Pension age,
  • is not in full-time education or training, and
  • has no more than £16,000 in savings.

However, certain exceptions apply to each of these conditions, so make enquiries with your local advice centre to find out whether you could make a claim.

Anyone living with a partner as a couple will need to make a joint claim.

More information about eligibility criteria for Universal Credit can be accessed at nidirect:

How do I make a claim?

Universal Credit claims are made online, which means that you need access to a suitable digital device with access to the Internet. It is possible to make a claim by telephone, or even for the Department to arrange a home visit, but you will need to have a good reason.

To set up an online account, you will need to create a username and password, provide answers to two security questions, and verify either an email address or mobile phone number.

The Department for Work & Pensions say that it takes about 20 minutes to complete a claim online. You will need to provide a variety of personal information. This includes details of your:

  • housing and household (people who live with you);
  • employment and earnings;
  • capital, savings and income (including other benefits);
  • health conditions or disabilities;
  • caring responsibilities;
  • education or training;
  • nationality and right to reside.

All claimants will need to verify their identity. This can be done online using the government’s Verify system, although in some cases it may be easier to go into your local Jobs & Benefits office to do so.

People who are unable to manage their claim for themselves will need help from a representative or appointed person. Extra support is also available for people who are vulnerable, such as young people leaving care, anyone dealing with domestic violence, or those who are homeless. You can also access interpreting services for help in other languages, and specialist assistance if you have a visual impairment or hearing difficulties. It is important to make the Department aware of your circumstances and to ask for help if you need it.

More information about making a claim for Universal Credit can be accessed at nidirect: