HomeRulesEmploymentBenefitsUniversal Credit › Eligibility
Universal Credit Eligibility Criteria

Most people will qualify for Universal Credit if they are out of work or get a low income. There are several ways to find out if you meet the eligibility criteria.

UC ELIGIBILITY: Claimants moving over to Universal Credit continues to increase. In most cases, the move will apply to people who already claim one of the qualifying benefits.

But, you can check in advance to see whether you meet the conditions by:

  • Reading through this detailed guidance on the Universal Credit eligibility criteria. It shows how your circumstances and where you live will dictate whether you can claim.
  • Entering your postcode into the Citizens Advice eligibility checker. The area where you live will determine which rules apply to you.

Note: Not everyone will be eligible to claim Universal Credit. A benefits calculator can help you check what other benefits you might get if you do not qualify. The eligibility criteria for Universal Credit is different for those who live in Northern Ireland.

Universal Credit Full Service Areas

You must live in a ‘full service’ area to make a new claim for Universal Credit. You can confirm whether your area gets the ‘full service’ using the Citizens Advice postcode checker.

Living with Your Partner

You may meet Universal Credit eligibility even if you or your partner is in work. In this case, the income and the savings of your partner would get taken into account. This is a type of means testing and the rule would apply even if your partner is not eligible for Universal Credit.

New Claims by People with Children

In most cases, people with children can make a new Universal Credit claim if any of these apply:

  • You have no more than two (2) children and you are living in one of the ‘full service’ areas.
  • You received Universal Credit in a ‘full service’ area in the previous 6 months and your payments have now stopped. In this case it would not matter how many children you have.
  • You got Universal Credit in a ‘live service’ area in the previous 6 months and the payments ended because of your earnings. In this case it would not matter how many children you have.

Thus, you cannot make a claim if you have three or more children and you did not claim Universal Credit in the last 6 months. If this applies to your situation you should apply for Child Tax Credit instead.

Claims for People aged 16 or 17

If you are 16 or 17 years old you can make a new claim for Universal Credit if any of these apply:

  • You have limited capability for work. The same applies if you have medical evidence and waiting for a Work Capability Assessment.
  • You are carrying out the role of a carer for someone with a severe disability.
  • You are responsible for bringing up a child.
  • You are a partner in a couple with responsibility for one or more children and your partner has Universal Credit eligibility.
  • You are pregnant and it is no more than eleven (11) weeks before the expected week of childbirth.
  • You gave birth to a baby within the last fifteen (15) weeks.
  • You do not get any parental support. An example would be if you are estranged from your parents and not getting local authority care.

Full-time Training and Studies

People in training, or studying full-time, would be eligible to make a new Universal Credit claim if any of these apply:

  • You are living with your partner and they qualify to get Universal Credit.
  • You are responsible for a child. This can be as a single person or as a couple (providing both of you are students).
  • You have a disability and entitled to get Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment if you have limited capability for work.
  • You have enrolled in ‘non-advanced education’ (e.g. studying for A levels or a BTEC National Diploma). You must not be older than 21 and not have any parental support.


Universal Credit Rules: An overview explaining what the Universal benefit system is and how it works.
How to Claim Universal Credit: You must apply online and as a couple if you are living with your partner.
Universal Credit Rates: Payments combine a standard allowance and any extra amounts that may apply.
Universal Credit Payments: Check how long it takes for the first payment and how often they get paid.
Advance on First Payment: Find out how to get an advance payment to help cover essential living costs.
Claimant Commitment: Check what you need to do and your responsibilities if you get Universal Credit.
Reporting Changes: You must report a change of circumstances while you are getting Universal Credit.
Other Financial Support: Help is available from various other organisations if you are having difficulties.

Reaching the Pension Credit Qualifying Age

You might be able to claim even if you reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit. But, you must be living with a partner who qualifies for Universal Credit and is below the qualifying age.

Universal Credit Eligibility Criteria in the United Kingdom