Universal credit: Transitional protection

Transitional protection – managed migration
Transitional SDP element
Transitional protection – state pension age claimants

Transitional protection managed migration

The Government have said that anyone that is ‘managed migrated’ over to Universal Credit in the formal exercise by DWP will not lose out in cash terms at the point they are moved where their circumstances remain the same. To do this, if the UC award is less than the total being received under the legacy benefits, the new UC award (upon managed migration) will include an additional amount to broadly make up the difference between what the claimant was receiving in total from legacy benefits (for example tax credits)on the last day of their award and the amount they would have received if they had universal credit on that day. Due to the way the calculation of the transitional element works, there may be some differences between the actual amounts received under legacy benefits and the actual amount awarded under universal credit.

The legislation sets out how the transitional element is to be calculated. There are also rules about how the transitional element is reduced over time and how and when it ends.

Some of the entitlement conditions for universal credit are different to legacy benefits and there is also transitional protection to cover some of these. These are:

The transitional capital disregard for tax credit claimants. This means that tax credit claimants who migrate over to universal credit under the formal managed migration exercise will have any capital over £16,000 disregarded for up to 12 months from their date of universal credit claim. Capital between £6000 and £16000 will still attract tariff income.
Protection for full-time students. This means that claimants who migrate over to universal credit under the formal managed migration exercise who do not meet the universal credit basic condition that they are not receiving education (and don’t meet any of the exceptions to that rule) will not have to meet that rule while they continue to undertake the course they are on.

There is more information about transitional protection in our managed migration section.

Transitional SDP element

From 27 January 2021, people who receive a severe disability premium (SDP) with a social security benefit (or have been receiving a SDP and continue to meet the criteria for SDP but the benefit has ceased in the previous month) are no longer prevented from making a new claim for UC and, consequently, can no longer make a brand new claim for legacy benefits.

The transitional SDP element is to be included in the calculation of the UC award for those SDP recipients who make a new claim for UC from 27 January. However, the transitional SDP element is liable to erosion over time in the same way as other transitional protection elements.

The transitional SDP element is not payable in cases where a transitional element is already being paid for claims made prior to 27 January 2021 and is not payable where the SDP recipient is joining the household and making a new joint UC claim with an existing UC claimant.

Following a High Court decision which ruled that the difference in treatment between people who started to claim UC and those still on their legacy benefits was unequal, further regulations introduce an additional amount of transitional SDP element for certain people making new claims for UC from 14 February 2024. It is understood that DWP are looking into arrangements to make up the shortfall for people who meet the criteria for this additional amount but who have already started claiming UC by 14 February 2024. Further details about the new transitional amount are set out in the DWP’s decision makers guidance ADM 1/24

Transitional protection - state pension age claimants

For those tax credit claimants who have reached state pension age (in a couple, where both claimants have reached state pension age), they will move to pension credit instead of universal credit. No details have been released yet about whether this will be a managed migration similar to the move to UC nor have any details about transitional protection been given.

Most mixed age couples are not able to claim pension credit and must claim UC instead. However, those who were in receipt of pension age housing benefit on 14 May 2019 and who have not had any break in their claim, can claim pension credit. It is not yet clear how existing tax credit claimants in this position will be dealt with.

Last reviewed/updated 26 February 2024