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Claiming Benefits - How to claim

Benefits and tax credits are payments from the government to certain people on low incomes, or to meet specific needs. Read our guide to find out more about them and how to claim.

How to claim

How do I make a claim?

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.

Do I need to provide evidence to support my claim?

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 safely.

How long will it take to process my claim?

The time can vary depending on the benefit.

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'  within this guide including target times for processing claims.

 What can I do if my claim is delayed?

There are many reasons why a claim might be delayed. For example:

  • You may be unable to provide a national insurance number straight away

  • There could be an error by you or the benefit agency

  • Further information or evidence may be required to support a claim

  • There could be delays in processing claims at the benefit agency

  • There could be a problem with the payment method

If you have provided all the information requested to support your claim 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.

How will I receive the benefit payment?

Most benefits are paid directly to your 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 may receive payments through the Payment Exception Service.

You can also nominate a person to receive the payment on your behalf if needed.

When will I receive the benefit payment?

When you are paid will depend on the benefit you have claimed. Some benefits are paid weekly, some every four weeks or monthly. 

Some are paid in advance and some in arrears.

Check the How and when your benefits are paid page of the Gov.UK website for an overview.

What do I do if I think they've made the wrong decision?

If you are unhappy with a benefit or tax credit decision there are several steps you can take:

  • Get more information about the decision.

  • Get the decision looked at again.

  • Appeal against the decision.

Further information about challenging benefit decisions.

I'm not happy with the way my claim has been handled - what can I do?

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 complaint.

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