Can benefits be backdated? (3 Tips)

This blog will look at whether benefits can be backdated. It will look at the conditions and situations under which backdating is feasible and guide the readers on how to claim their entitlements accordingly. 

It will also address some common queries that arise in this process as well. 

Can benefits be backdated? 

Yes, several benefits in the United Kingdom welfare system can be backdated. There are conditions for doing so, and these requirements must be shown to be fulfilled if the benefits are to be claimed in this manner. 

Each such benefit that can be backdated and the parallel conditions will be explored forthwith. 

Universal Credit 

This is claimed by people who are no longer receiving legacy benefits such as Housing Benefits, Working and Child Tax Credits, Income Support, Income-based Job-seeker’s Allowance and Income-based Employment and Support Allowance. 

If they were receiving these legacy benefits, they will continue to do so within the same framework, unless they have a change of circumstance or the Department of Work and Pension migrates them to the Universal Credit system. 

Your Universal Credit claim can be backdated for a period of one month i.e. 30 days from when you make your first claim. It can be either a single claim or as a couple, in which case, both parties need to submit reasons for not claiming earlier. 

If you have one of the following reasons for not claiming earlier, you may be able to get your benefit backdated for a month. 

  • If the Department of Work and Pensions had made a systemic/ official error in informing you about your Universal credit entitlement or benefit amount which stopped you from claiming. In this case additional compensation can be claimed. 
  • If you have a disability or had an illness which prevented you from claiming on time. This will require medical attestations from your local General Practitioner. 
  • If you have separated from your partner/spouse, and now have to make an individual claim , whereas earlier it was joint. 

Along the same lines, if you were claiming jointly but your partner/spouse does not comply with the claimant commitment requirements, you will have to claim for yourself. 

  • If you were not aware or informed that the legacy benefits such as income-based JSA and ESA were about to expire and be subsumed under Universal Credit.
  • If you were trying to apply but the online systems were not working, which forced your claim to be delayed. 

Housing Benefit 

Although this is a legacy benefit, if you were already claiming it and you have a delay in claiming it, you can continue the receipt of this benefit and it can be backdated as well. 

Just as with the Universal Credit scenario, you have to ensure that you have reasonable justifications for not claiming. 

In addition, the Department of Work and Pension (DWP), will also factor in your life circumstances which could have impeded a claim e.g. health, age, illness etc.

Backdating rules and regulations for Housing benefits differ based on age and the nature of residence. This is illustrated below: 

Backdating for claimants below State Pension age:  

Beneficiaries who have not claimed their due for the concerned period, who are below State Pension age and are currently working need to demonstrate a sound justification for this oversight. 

This could include an illness that hindered their ability to claim or because they were waiting for confirmation on another benefit(s) which, if received, would not allow the parallel receipt of Housing Benefit. I.e, the two benefits are mutually exclusive and only one can be claimed in the place of the other, not together. 

Backdating could also be justified if the claimant was confused about his/her entitlements, was not educated/informed properly by concerned departments or officials, or were incorrectly told they were not eligible for Housing Benefits, when in actuality they were.

If these conditions apply, your application for backdating should be considered in earnest. 

Backdating for claimants at or above State Pension age:

If you have reached State Pension age, then by virtue of this, you do not need to furnish any reason for not claiming during the eligible period. 

You are automatically given a concession in terms of your inability to pay, and the claim will automatically be backdated for an extended period of 3 months. An application from your side is not a prerequisite. 

All that is required is an official record of having reached State Pension age or above and meeting the eligibility criteria to keep receiving Housing Benefits, if you have been claiming it previously. 

Backdating for alternative residences: 

The above conditions for people below State Pension Age to claim Housing Benefits are applicable in terms of rented accommodation, under either social or private tenancy arrangements. 

But if you reside in another type of residence, specifically hostels, then there is no need to justify any delay in making a claim. Since hostel residents pay rent on a per day basis, their situation is categorically different. 

As a consequence, no documented reasons are necessary for the application. The Housing Benefit will be backdated from the resident till the date when they first took occupancy. 

Tax Credits 

Just as with Housing Benefit, Tax Credits are also now subsumed under the Universal Credit system. So new claims cannot be made anymore. 

But backdating is possible, if during the period for which backdating has been requested, the eligibility criteria for tax credits has been maintained. 

Now that Universal credit has been initiated there will be a change of circumstance. But even in the event of a change of circumstances, due to any other reason, the maximum backdate period is one month. 

In addition this backdate is only applicable if the request pertains to a period within the same tax/financial year. 

If it pertains to a previous financial year then the HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs Service) will have to inquire into the circumstances before they make a decision. 

The only concessions/exemption in terms of time or reasons given in this regard, are extended to refugees or people who have disabilities. 

In the case of refugee applicants, it may have taken time for them to receive the official notification of their refugee status, approval of their asylum request etc. 

It may also have taken a while since entering the country for refugees to have been granted leave to remain by the immigration department. 

In these cases, the claimant can make an application to the HMRC for backdated tax credits from the date they received their official notification.

The period of backdating can also be extended beyond one month, i.e. 31 days, if the claimant has applied for disability benefit that automatically confers tax credits as well. 

Once a beneficiary begins to receive disability benefits that entitle them to tax credits, they can claim upto 3 months backdated tax credits in line with this situation. 

This blog looked at the main benefits which could be backdated if the claimant delayed in applying for making their regular requests. 

The different conditions attached to backdating in each scenario were detailed and the limitations on the process of backdating in each case were also illustrated. 

If you have any queries,comments or suggestions, please feel free to contact us and leave a message. We welcome your input. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Can benefits be backdated? 

What is the maximum period for backdating benefits? 

Under normal circumstances, the period of backdating is restricted to one month i.e 31 days maximum. If you are of working age, then the Housing benefits will be backdated only to this extent. 

The same goes for Universal Credit. 

However, in special circumstances e.g. the attainment of Pension age in the case of Housing benefits or attenuating circumstances of refugee status or disability in terms of Council tax credits, the period of backdating can be extended to 3 months maximum. 

In some cases, the period of backdating will also depend on whether the claim is made for a time period within the same financial/tax year or of a previous year.

Can I get backdated Child Benefits?


Yes you can. When your child is born you have to register its birth. You will also have to make a fresh claim if your child comes to reside with you, after previously staying with a partner or spouse. 

The time to file a claim for Child Benefit may understandably take a while/may be delayed. This is all the more cogent in the COVID scenario. In addition, it may take time for the HMRC to vet and finalize your claim. 

You can get backdated benefits for this delay or from the date your baby was born, or you became the primary carer for your child – for a maximum period of 3 months.

For more information, please refer to – How to claim Child Benefit – Citizens Advice

Can I get backdated Disability Benefits?  

It depends on the benefit you are claiming. For example, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimed for children under the age of 16 years cannot be backdated. It will only be eligible from the date the application form is submitted or the claim is made. 

But in the case of a disability top-up like Severe Disability Premium, which was dependent on the receipt of means-tested benefits such as Income Support, income based JSA, ESA and Housing Benefit, was subsumed under Universal Credit. 

People were unable to get backdated benefits. But now, the government has permitted anyone eligible for Severe Disability Premium to claim backdated benefits from the time you become entitled to it. 

This could translate to a long period of eligibility time, meaning you can expect a substantial payout. For more information, you can refer to – How do I claim a Severe Disability Premium? – Turn2us

Can I backdate my Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claims? 

While this also falls under disability allowances, it is addressed separately because some new rules have come into force. Under normal circumstances, the PIP claims cannot be backdated. 

They will only be given from the date of the claim. However as the U.K government redefined what social welfare and security means they have expanded the reach of PIP. The PIP has both daily living and mobility components. 

The idea of whether a claimant needs social support has been expanded, from just considering difficulties in doing daily tasks, needing supervision or moving around, to also needing assistance in daily interactions and who face problems when placed in social situations. 

For these people, the DWP wil, backdate the PIP claims, which were earlier rejected. 

For a more detailed explanation, we encourage you to read – PIP back payments: Who is eligible to claim up to £15,000 from the DWP after rule change and how to apply (

Can I backdate my new-style ESA/JSA entitlements? 

Yes, but only within good reason. In the case of new-style Job-seeker’s Allowance (JSA), you can claim a backdated allowance. 

But you have to be either looking for work actively or be capable and ready for work on the date of the claim, so that you can be paid for 3 months prior to that. 

You also have to provide a good reason for not taking it earlier such as the illness of death of family members/close relatives or misinformation by local departments or the local job-center. Refer – How to claim JSA – Citizens Advice, to confirm your queries. 

In the case of ESA as well, the allowances will cover 3 months backdated benefits. This is applicable if you are unable to work, or you are forced to work less/have restrictions on your ability to work due to an illness or disorder. 

The only caveat here is that the first week of benefits will not be transferred. This is a ‘waiting period’- the first week during which you are unable to work to your full capacity. This topic is explained further here- Claiming new style ESA – Citizens Advice

In addition, you can look into backdating other benefits as well e.g. bereavement claims and the like. 


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