With an increase in benefits claims in the post-pandemic era (2019-2021), the Department for Work and Pensions has introduced new processes to streamline benefits claims and accelerate the process. Through his blog post, we will delve in-depth to understand the reason why certain claimants of Universal Credit have difficulty with their identity verification process and what can they do about it. Additionally, we will also discuss the concept of Universal Credit, the eligibility criteria for this state benefit as well as the application process.

Why Am I Having Problems With Universal Credit Identity Verification?

Sometimes new customers have problems with identity verification with Universal Credit due to one (or more) of the following reasons:

  • they don’t know how to use a computer
  • they don’t have access to a computer and/or free internet
  • they don’t have an email address
  • they don’t have a bank account
  • they don’t have a mobile number
  • they need support in completing their UC application

If you use Government Gateway, you will be able to secure your identity by creating a specific user id and password by providing documented information about yourself.

Yet, there may be times when there is no specific reason why you are having problems with your identity verification; however, chances are that you are a new customer and the process is taking time due to the system being shifted online in post-pandemic (covid-19) times.

When you apply for Universal Credit through their online portal your job centre is automatically notified of your online application. This means that even if you don’t receive an identity verification, you can expect to receive a call from the jobcentre to confirm your details. However, if you think that reasonable time has passed between your application and the response time from your job centre, you can call on their toll-free number or email them to seek feedback. 

Universal Credit claimants (especially those from the pandemic era) must make sure that they respond to identity verification queries raised by Universal Credit, their Job Centre or the Department for Work and Pensions. 

According to a news article, many people who were awarded Universal Credit during covid-19 were not asked to visit the jobcentre for face to face interviews and the entire process from application to verification was conducted online. When those people were contacted for identity verification, some of them chose not to respond which not only stopped future payments but they were asked to pay back overpaid amounts due to their false claims.

What Is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a state benefit for UK citizens above the age of 18 and below state pension age. It aims to provide financial assistance to individuals who are either out of work or on a low income. It is a monthly payment that claimants receive to help them to cover living costs.

Universal Credit has replaced six benefits, referred to as the “legacy benefits” by serving a single payment for households and helping them meet housing and childcare costs. These include the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

Additionally, it provides support for health conditions, disabilities or the role of a carer that prevent claimants from working full time or working at all.

Who Is Eligible For Universal Credit?

To qualify for Universal Credit, claimants must be able to fulfil the below eligibility criteria:

  • aged between 18 (in some cases it may be 16 or 17) and state pension age
  • unemployed or on low income
  • between the claimant and their partner, total savings are less than £6,000
  • experiencing high costs for child care
  • suffering from a disability or health condition
  • caring for someone else

The amount of Universal Credit that an individual receives depends on their personal circumstances and income (if any). For instance, someone who is single and younger than 25 years of age will be eligible for Universal Credit amounting to around £257 per month. Meanwhile, this amount will rise to around £509 for someone who is living with a partner and either one of them or both of them are above the age of 25.

Which Change In Circumstances Affect Universal Credit?

Certain changes in your circumstances can bear an impact on the benefits you receive including Universal Credit. Therefore, it is advisable if you face any of the following situations, you must inform the relevant authorities: 

  • a new mobile number, postal or email address
  • a change in your bank details
  • change of residence due to moving in with a partner
  • having a child
  • changes to your health condition
  • being unable to work due to an illness
  • starting to care for a child or disabled person
  • finding or finishing a job
  • changes to your earnings, savings, investments
  • changes to rental payments
  • changes to your immigration status (in case you’re not a British citizen)

What Counts As Income For Universal Credit?

During your benefits calculation by the DWP, not only is your job-related income(s) taken into account, but the authorities will also consider unearned incomes. These are incomes that individuals receive without having to work.  

Unearned incomes that affect your Universal Credit payments include the following:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (new style)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (new style)
  • Pension Income
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • State benefits that aren’t replaced by Universal Credit

For every £1 earned through any of the above means, £1 will be reduced from your Universal Credit payments.

However, the following unearned incomes do not count towards Universal Credit calculations:

  • Child Benefit
  • Child Maintenance Payments
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Income From Boarders And Lodgers

What Happens To Universal Credit If I Split Up With My Partner?

Your Universal Credit claim will continue if you and your partner split up. You will also continue receiving your future payments as per the previous schedule; however, the amount of your claim will decrease due to a change in your relationship status.

Below are details of how Universal Credit amounts are classified depending on relationship status:

Your circumstancesStandard amount of UC claim
Single and under 25 £257.33 a month
Single and 25 or older£324.84 a month
Living with a partner. Both partners are below 25£403.93 a month
Living with a partner. One or both partners are 25 or older£509.91 a month

These are standard amounts. Depending on your circumstances you may be able to claim additional benefits for the following:

  • Housing
  • Children
  • Childcare

In case of a split with a partner, the claimant should inform the Department for Work and Pensions of this change in circumstances. Additionally, they should also inform the DWP if there are children involved and who will be primarily responsible for child care.

If children continue living with both partners at different times or both partners are unable to reach a decision on this matter by themselves, the DWP will decide on their own as to which partner is primarily responsible for the children and making decisions on their behalf. It is then that they will be able to claim additional elements to their Universal Credit claim.

In rare cases, the DWP will provide alternative payment arrangements such as Split Payments to Universal Credit claimants by splitting up their household claims between two members of the household.

What Do They Ask You In A Universal Credit Phone Appointment?

In addition to your personal identification details, you can be asked about any of the following areas of your life during a phone appointment with regards to the Universal Credit claim:

  • your identification details from your passport or driving license
  • your postcode
  • your NI number
  • your bank account, building society or credit union account number 
  • your monthly rental payments
  • your landlord’s address 
  • details of your savings and capital investments
  • details of your income and benefits
  • details of any child care payments made by you
  • child benefit reference numbers (if any)

Additionally, you may also be asked questions related to the following aspects of your life with regards to your claimant commitment for Universal Credit:

  • personal circumstances such as child care or health concerns as that may affect your work-related responsibilities
  • personal skills that you may have acquired outside your workplace
  • your educational qualifications and work experience
  • the type of job you aim to apply for
  • the number of hours you are willing to work

Conclusion:

According to Government Statistics, the Department for Work and Pensions has been working tirelessly to respond to an process more than 1.4 million claims since 16 March 2020. For this purpose, they have employed 10,000 new staff members with a further 5,000 being recruited so as to streamline the benefits claim process. While there may be a host of reasons why claimants may find problems with their identity verification since the process became online, the easiest way to confirm their details is to use their Government Gateway so that their identity is not only easily confirmed but also remain secure. However, if they have already proceeded with an application, a simple call to their Job Centre will be helpful.

FAQs: Why Am I Having Problems With Universal Credit Identity Verification?

How do I prove my identity for Universal Credit?

You can prove your identity to Universal Credit by providing them details of your National Insurance number, your last salary slip, your most recent P60, your passport (a valid UK or non-UK passport), valid driving license, and information regarding your tax credits.

How long does it take to verify identity for Universal Credit?

If all your documentation is updated and correct, it may only take 15 minutes for your identity to be verified during the Universal Credit application process. However, it may take 5 weeks or more for you to receive your first payment. 

How do I claim Universal Credit without an ID?

You cannot claim Universal Credit without providing confirmation of your identity through personal documents. However, if you need to provide a photo ID, you can use a copy of your birth certificate or national insurance number. You may also be asked to visit your job centre in person, answer security questions and provide documents as evidence that can confirm your ID.

Why does my Universal Credit say 0 this month?

Your Universal Credit payment may be reduced to zero if your claim is ending and you need to be reassessed for future payments. In such a case, you should contact your jobcentre and apply for a new claim as per their guidance.

Does Universal Credit Check your bank account?

While Universal Credit (or the DWP) do not maintain regular surveillance of someone’s bank account; however, if the department suspects an individual of claim fraud, they have the authority to gain access to the claimant’s bank account for verification of facts.

References:

Understanding Universal Credit – How to claim

Help_with_benefits_and_money/1120/universal_credit/2

Universal Credit claimants ‘unable to verify identity told to pay benefit money back to DWP’ – Daily Record

Confirm Your Identity: a new way to verify online – DWP Digital

Universal Credit claimants to verify identity through Government Gateway – GOV.UK

Universal Credit and you

Understanding Universal Credit – How earnings affect Universal Credit

Universal Credit: Report a change of circumstances – GOV.UK

Universal Credit: further information for couples – GOV.UK

Universal credit interviews

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.