Who can apply for Universal Credit?

Historically, under Universal Credit LIVE SERVICE, only single claimants without any dependents have been able to apply for Universal Credit. However, since 13th December 2017 under Universal Credit FULL SERVICE Universal Credit has been made available to a much wider group of people living in Wolverhampton. You may now apply for Universal Credit if you are:

  • single
  • a member of couple
  • a lone parent
  • a couple with children

The Rollout: Because Universal Credit is being rollout in Wolverhampton in FOUR stages SUBJECT TO POSTCODE AREA your ability to apply for Universal Credit depends on where you live in Wolverhampton. The Universal Credit Postcode Map highlights the area timeline for the roll out in Wolverhampton. If you are uncertain about your ability to apply for Universal Credit then please use the Postcode checker.The ‘Postcode checker’ will tell you if you can apply. In any event the Universal Credit online claim will not let you apply if you live in the wrong area and/or your personal circumstances disqualify you. Once you entre in your postcode, it will only let you proceed if you live in an area where Universal Credit is available. If you are not able to apply for Universal Credit then you will have to apply for a ‘legacy benefit’. That is to say you will need to claim one or more than one of the benefits Universal Credit is set to replace.

If you live in a part of Wolverhampton where Universal Credit FULL SERVICE has not yet been rolled out then you will be expected to apply for Universal Credit under Universal Credit LIVE if you are single and fit for work. Otherwise (i.e. if you are a member of a couple or you have children or are too sick to work) you will be expected to apply for the benefits that Universal Credit will ultimately replace. See the ‘What is Universal Credit’ page to find out just what benefits Universal Credit will replace. It is understood that form 31st December 2017 the Universal Credit LIVE system will cease to operate for new people. This means that from 1st January 2018 even if you are single and fit for work you will need to apply for benefits in the old way. You will not be able to apply for Universal Credit until Universal Credit Full Service is rolled out in your postcode area. 

The TWO CHILD LIMIT means that if you have three or more children (even if you are a merging family) you cannot apply Universal Credit. This does not mean that there are no benefits you can claim. It simply means that for the meantime at least you will be expected to apply for the ‘legacy benefits’ (i.e. the benefits Universal Credit is replacing - visit What is Universal Credit for more information on what benefits Universal Credit will be replacing. It is understood that this restriction on larger families’ will apply until 1st February 2019 (formerly the date was 1st November 2019).

Young People

You must normally be aged at least 18 to apply for Universal Credit. However, if you are 16 or 17 year-olds then you may apply, for example, if you are:

  • pregnant and within 11 weeks of giving birth
  • a lone parent
  • unable to work due to ill-health/disability
  • a carer of a disabled child or adult

If you are aged 16 or 17 then you may also apply if you are unable to live with your parents because you are you are estranged from them (meaning you do not get on). You may also apply for Universal Credit if you must live away from your parents because otherwise there would be a risk to your physical or mental health. These are just examples of the situations young people may apply for Universal Credit. Do seek further information and advice on your right to apply for Universal Credit (and/or other benefits) if you are aged 16/17 and your parents do not receive benefits on your behalf and you have no income.     

If you are aged 18 to 21 then you will be disqualified from getting help with your rent payments under Universal Credit unless:

  • you have a child
  • you are too sick to work
  • under the ‘claimant commitment’ you are either not expected look for work at all or you are expected to look for work but for less than 35 hours per week
  • you are getting Personal Independence Payment for daily living
  • you are getting Disability Living Allowance middle rate or higher rate carer component
  • it would be inappropriate for you to live at home
  • you are unable to live at home due to a risk to your physical or mental health
  • you are a care leaver
  • you are an orphan
  • you have been threatened with or are the victim of domestic violence

Young people who are working and whose earnings are equivalent to the amount they would be paid for 16 hours work at the level of the national minimum wage for a person of their age are also exempt from this provision. You may also be exempt from this rule if you live in certain type of ‘temporary accommodation’ provided by the council or a social landlord or you are young offender. Our Places to go for support page will help you should you need further advice and assistance in relation to this matter.

Students/People in education

If you are studying then your ability to apply for Universal Credit will depend on your age and circumstances and the type of course you are doing. Whilst most people in education are not allowed to apply for Universal Credit it would be wrong to say that anyone in education is unable to apply. Do seek further information and advice as necessary.   

Immigration Status

If you (and/or your partner) are not a British National (you may be an EEA national or a citizen of a country from outside Europe) then you should know that your ability to apply for Universal Credit is dependent upon your immigration status and 'right to reside' in the UK. Therefore, before applying for Universal Credit you should seek specialist advice on your entitlement to Universal Credit.

When you apply you are expected to meet with a "Work Coach" at your local Job Centre Plus and enter into a 'claimant commitment' outlining your work requirements and the steps you will be taking to find work.