In this section, you can discover more about how to claim
benefits, how long it will take and how you will be paid.
To claim a benefit, you will usually have to fill in a form,
either on paper or online, or make a telephone call. Each benefit
has its own claiming process.
See 'Information on who to
contact to make a claim' which includes links to
claim forms where available.
In many cases, yes. For example, you will usually have to give
your National Insurance number and may be asked to show evidence of
your identity, income and savings.
If you have to send off original documents make sure you keep
copies and send them recorded delivery to make sure they arrive
The time can vary depending on the benefit. Department for Work
and Pensions (DWP) agencies and Local Authorities have targets but
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) does not.
You can help by completing the claim form thoroughly and
providing evidence promptly. See 'Further
information about how long it takes to process a claim'
including target times for processing claims.
There are many reasons why a claim might be delayed. For
- You may be unable to provide a national insurance number
- There could be an error by you or the benefit agency
- Further information or evidence may be required to support a
- There could be delays in processing claims at the benefit
- There could be a problem with the payment method
If you have provided all the information requested to support
your claim, and it has been longer than the set target time for processing claims,
you may want to contact the relevant benefit agency to find out why
there is a delay.
If your claim is delayed and you are experiencing financial
difficulties you may be able to get a Short
Term Benefit Advance.
Most benefits are paid directly to your post office, bank or
building society account but there are exceptions.
Council Tax Support will usually go straight to your
Council Tax account and will be taken off your Council Tax
liability on your bill.
Housing Benefit is sometimes paid to you but it may be paid
directly to your landlord in some circumstances.
If you have difficulties opening or managing an account, you
used to be able to ask to be paid by cheque instead (which could be
cashed at a post office). However, in October 2012 a new
Simple Payments card scheme was launched to replace benefits,
pensions and child maintenance cheque payments.
For more information, see Simple
You can also nominate a person to receive the payment on your
behalf if needed.
When you are paid will depend on the benefit you have claimed.
Some benefits are paid weekly, some every four weeks.
Some are paid in advance and some in arrears.
You have the right to expect a reasonable standard of service
from the people dealing with your benefit claim.
Most offices that deal with benefits, including your Local
Authority, will have a charter or statement of standards of service
that sets out what you can expect. You will be able to get this
from their offices or websites.
If you are not happy with the level of service you have received
then you can make a complaint. You can complain whether or not you
have made a claim for benefit.
Further information on how to make a