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Habitual Residence Test - I have failed the Habitual Residence Test. What should I do?

All claimants have to pass or be exempt from the Habitual Residence Test in order to claim certain benefits and Tax Credits.

I have failed the Habitual Residence Test. What should I do?

If you have been refused benefit because you failed the habitual residence test:

Find out why you failed the test, by checking the decision letter or, if the letter does not give clear reasons, contact whoever made the decision (DWP or local authority).

  • You can challenge the decision, by asking for a mandatory reconsideration within one month of the decision being made.  You can contact a local advice centre or Citizens Advice Bureau for help.
  • If the mandatory reconsideration is refused you can appeal.
  • You should also make a new claim even if you are challenging the decision.  This is because the benefit authority or Tribunal can only look at your circumstances at the date of the decision and not since.  You may qualify on a new claim because your circumstances have changed – for example simply living here for longer may mean you are accepted as having resided here for an ‘appreciable period.’
  • Check if you fit into one of the exempt categories for the habitual residence test.
  • The habitual residence test applies to the claimant.  If your partner has a better chance of passing the test, they could make a new claim and include you in their claim.  However, this will not work for Universal Credit, where both partners need to make a joint claim and both need to satisfy the Habitual Residence Test.

You should seek specialist welfare benefits advice if you have failed the Habitual Residence and require help with challenging a decision. 

You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local adviser to help you further.


January 2019

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