MORE than one million people are missing out on extra cash from Universal Credit.
The benefit is available to those without a job as well as those in work and on a low income.
Many could be eligible after a change to Universal Credit rules last year that means more people can get payments even if they have a job.
EntitledTo estimates that around 1.2million are missing out on £7.46billion between them each year.
That's just over £6,000 a year each on average, but the exact amount could be higher or lower depending on circumstances.
A simple check using a benefits calculator could tell you if your missing out in essential cash you're entitled to.
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At a time when incomes are being squeezed, it could give a much-needed boost to your income.
It can also tell you if there are other benefits you're missing out on, and people are missing out on an estimated £15billion of benefits, like council tax support and pension credit too.
Entitledto's free calculator works out whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit.
Free online benefits calculators are also available from Turn2Us and Policy in Practice.
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A common reason for missing out is that those in work but on a low income don't think they will get anything but many Universal Credit claimants are in work.
Around half a million people are now eligible for Universal Credit while working after a change to the taper rate rule last year.
Previously they may not have qualified for the benefit but now are and have been urged to check again.
Even some workers earning more than £50,000 could now be eligible, depending on their circumstances.
Who's eligible for Universal Credit ?
You are generally eligible for Universal Credit if you're on a low income or are out of work.
You need to be over 18, although there are exceptions for some 16 and 17-year-olds, and under State Pension age (currently 65).
You can't claim if you have more £16,000 or more in savings – but if you can claim as soon as your savings go under this amount if you're living off the money.
Anyone already claiming benefits that are being replaced by Universal Credit may be able to move to the new system, but they should check carefully before applying as they won't be able to revert back.
How much can I get on Universal Credit?
How much Universal Credit you can get depends on your circumstances, like if you live with someone, your age and how much you earn if you are working.
The benefit is made up of a standard element and additional payments, if you have kids for instance or need help with housing costs.
Here's the standard allowance per month for Universal Credit:
- Single, under 25 – £265.31
- Single, 25 or over – £334.91
- Couple, joint claimants both under 25 – £416.45
- Couple, joint claimants, one or both 25 or over – £525.72
You may also get additional money on top of this standard amount if you:
- have children
- have a disability or health condition which prevents you from working
- need help paying your rent or covering housing costs
The total amount you get is also affected by how much you earn if you are working.
Your payment is reduced by 55p for every £1 you earn over a certain amount.
The exact amount you can get will depend and a benefit calculator can give you the best idea of what you could be entitled to.
How do I claim Universal Credit?
You can apply for Universal Credit online by creating a government website account.
In order to access the benefit, you should submit your claim within 28 days of making an account.
You'll need to provide information like your bank account information, details of your income like payslips and any savings and investments.
You will also need to prove your identity with a driving licence, passport of debit and credit card.
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You can get help with your application by calling the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644, or the online support as you're completing your application.
You can also get advice and support on making a claim from Citizens Advice.
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