Habitual Residence Test - What to do if you have failed the Habitual Residence Test

Many benefits require you to satisfy, or be exempt from, the Habitual Residence Test.

Last reviewed 19 June 2023

What to do if you have failed the Habitual Residence Test

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

  • If you have claimed a check whether the benefit authority considers that you do not have a qualifying right to reside or that you are not ‘habitually resident in fact’. If this is not clear from the decision, ask the benefit authority for a written statement of reasons for the decision.  
  • You can challenge the decision by asking for a   within one month of the decision being made. You can get help from a local advice centre
  • If the 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 if the benefit authority considers that you are not ‘habitually resident in fact’ because you have only lived in the for a very short period, 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 groups exempt from the Habitual Residence Test
  • The habitual residence test applies to the claimant. If you claimed pension credit, housing benefit or council tax support and your partner has a better chance of passing the test, they can make a new claim and include you in their claim (and you can still challenge the refusal of your earlier claim). This is also the case if you claimed Housing Benefit and your partner are both pension age, or you are living in temporary or supported accommodation. Note: this does not apply for Universal Credit because both partners need to make a joint claim and both need to satisfy the Habitual Residence Test. 

You should get welfare benefits advice if you have failed the Habitual Residence Test to help you to challenge the decision.  


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