Universal credit: Who is currently eligible to make a claim for Universal Credit?

Universal Credit (UC) has conditions that must be met in order to establish entitlement. We explain these in our entitlement to UC section.

However, before considering the entitlement conditions of the benefit, this page considers who is eligible to submit a claim.

Who cannot submit a claim for UC?

From 27 January 2021, there is only one remaining group that cannot make a claim for UC -

Frontier workers

On 1 February 2019, rules were introduced which mean that 'frontier workers' are not permitted to claim UC and if they wish to claim support from the UK will be expected to claim tax credits and/or other legacy benefits that UC is replacing, until further notice. 

In summary, frontier workers are people who are 'in Great Britain' (under Section 4(1)(c) Welfare Reform Act 2012) or 'in Northern Ireland' (under Article 9(1)(c) of Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015) but do no reside in either GB or NI. Crown servants or members of HM Forces who are posted overseas (as defined under the UC Regulations 2013) are not frontier workers.

There is some information on the GOV.UK website about frontier workers

Those with three or more children

Up to and including 31 January 2019, claimants who were responsible for three or more children were not able to make a claim for UC unless they:

From 1 February 2019, this rule no longer applies and claimants with more than 2 children are able to claim UC and are no longer permitted to make a new claim for tax credits (or other legacy benefits) unless an exception applies.

Those entitled to severe disability premium with another benefit

This exception was introduced from 16 January 2019 and revoked with effect from 27 January 2021 and is often referred to as the ‘SDP Gateway’.

Between 16 January 2019 and 27 January 2021, it covered someone who

The rule was introduced following Judicial Review proceedings on behalf of two claimants who were in receipt of the severe disability premium in IRESA and had to apply for UC when they moved to new local authority areas. The purpose of the rule was to prevent individuals in receipt of a severe disability premium (in income-based jobseeker's allowance, income support, income-related employment and support allowance or housing benefit) from moving to UC before transitional protection is in place. From 27 January 2021, a transitional SDP element is introduced in UC which provides that transitional protection.

Who can submit a claim for UC?

Since December 2018, UC has been fully available in all areas of the UK, this means that the majority of people are able to submit a claim for UC (although that does not mean they will be entitled to UC) with the exception of frontier workers as explained above.

Those who have reached state pension credit age

Those who have reached state pension credit qualifying age (see the GOV.UK website for a tool to check when that age will be reached) are not entitled to UC under the basic conditions of the benefit, although they are free to make a claim. The current exception to this is for 'mixed age' couples where one person is above state pension qualifying age and one is below that age - the UC entitlement conditions allow entitlement in such cases.

From 15 May 2019, mixed age couples are only able to claim UC and are no longer able to claim pension credit. Until that date, mixed age couples could choose whether to claim UC or pension credit. There are a small number of exceptions to the general rule - see Age UK factsheet for further information).

From 1 February 2019, those who have reached state pension credit qualifying age can no longer make a new claim for tax credits.

We explain more about the rules for those who have reached state pension age in our 'pensioner' section.

DWP power to stop accepting UC claims

DWP have a general power to stop accepting UC claims in specific areas at any time under Regulation 4 Transitional Provision Regulations 2014. Please check our blog for the latest information.

Last reviewed/updated 24 May 2021