If you claimed Universal Credit before 16 January 2019 and you have received a backdated payment from the DWP to compensate you for your loss of a Severe Disability Premium, please call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 to let us know as you may be entitled to additional compensation.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit for people of working age who are on a low income whether you are in work or out of work. It has replaced the following existing benefits, which are now known as “legacy benefits”:

  • Income Support

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Child Tax Credit 

  • Working Tax Credit

  • Housing benefit

When can I make a claim?

New claimants 

Universal Credit has been phased in gradually across the UK. From December 2018, if you are a new claimant of means tested benefits you will have to make a claim for Universal Credit.

Existing legacy benefit claimants

If you already receive one of the benefits the Government is replacing –you do not have to do anything now. The DWP will contact you closer to the time with more details of what will happen and when. When you are due to transfer, you will have to make a claim for Universal Credit and this may involve an assessment. The Government has confirmed that the last claimants to be moved to Universal Credit will be those in the Employment and Support Allowance support group.

The Government plans to start transferring people who are still on existing benefits or tax credits onto Universal Credit from November 2020.This process is called “move to UC” and it is intended to be completed by December 2023. The timeframe is however subject to change and we will update this webpage if any change is announced by the Government. 

Change of circumstances - 'natural migration' 

As an existing benefit claimant, you can continue claiming legacy benefit(s) until you are moved onto Universal Credit by the DWP, unless you have a change of circumstance. 

You must report any change to your local Jobcentre, and as a result you may be required to make a new claim for Universal Credit. This process is called 'natural migration'. 

Severe Disability Premium protection and compensation

From 16 January 2019, if you are entitled to a legacy benefit that includes a Severe Disability Premium (SDP), or have been within the last month, then you will be protected from natural migration and you will not be able to claim Universal Credit. Instead, you will remain on legacy benefits until you are moved over through the ‘move to UC’ process. 

If you were previously entitled to an SDP and claimed Universal Credit before 16 January 2019, you may be entitled to an additional payment within your Universal Credit award from July 2019. The current proposal includes a 'transitional SDP amount' ranging between £80 and £360 per month since your move to Universal Credit.

If you have received a backdated payment to compensate you for your lost disability premiums, please call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 to let us know. You may be entitled to additional compensation and our Legal Rights Service can give you more information and support you to take the matter further.

How to claim Universal Credit

There is no paper claim form for Universal Credit and claims can be made online by submitting an electronic claim form: www.gov.uk/universal-credit.

If you can use the online system but you do not have access to a computer, your local Jobcentre, library, Council or Citizens Advice Bureau may have services available for you to use free of charge.

If you cannot access the internet and make your claim online, or feel that you need more support to do this, there are other ways for you to make your claim:

Help to Claim Service

Help to Claim Service Citizens Advice (England and Wales) and Citizens Advice Scotland provide a Help to Claim Service. To access this support, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Telephone claim

If you are unable to claim online, you can make a telephone claim where a Universal Credit Case Manager will set up an account for you, record the data gathered, submit your claim and identify your claim as a phone claim on the system. To access a telephone claim you can call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0345 600 0723 and explain why you cannot apply online.

DWP home visiting service

If you require additional support, you can request access to the DWP Home Visiting Team. This is where the DWP would arrange for DWP staff or a “Local Service Support” to visit your home to complete the online form for you. To request a home visit, you can call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0345 600 0723 and explain why you need this service.

Work Capability Assessment

If you are claiming the work capability component of Universal Credit due to disability or illness you will undergo a medical test called the Work Capability Assessment.

For more information about this please see our factsheet on the topic:

Further information and support

For more information about Universal Credit, who can claim it and how much it is worth download the Universal Credit factsheet.

Universal Credit Toolkit Series

We have created a series of Toolkits to support you in making your claim, obtaining reasonable adjustments, requesting backdating and preparing you for agreeing your Claimant Commitment.

Help to claim

For guidance on how to claim and receive appropriate support and adjustments.

Request to backdate

For guidance on how to request backdating of your Universal Credit claim.

Agreeing your Claimant Commitment

You must agree a Claimant Commitment in order to receive Universal Credit. If you fail to carry out the agreed actions, Jobcentre Plus may suspend your benefits. Use our top tips for signing your Claimant Commitment to ensure that your benefits are not suspended.  

How to appeal a decision on your Universal Credit claim

If you dispute the decision made on your Universal Credit claim and would like the DWP to look at their decision again, you can ask for a reconsideration.

If, after the DWP have reconsidered their decision, you are still unhappy, you can then lodge an appeal with HM Courts & Tribunal Service.

Find out more about the process and timescales for benefits appeals.