28th September, 2022
Recently a tribunal of Upper-tier Judges ruled in a case, where the claimant, a young man (AM), suffering from autism, appealed DWP’s decision refusing his “backdated” request for Universal Credit which he made weeks after submitting his claim.
It has to be said, the ability to “backdate” a new claim for Universal Credit is limited. The rules are prescribed, in Regulation 26 of the Claims & Payment Regulations 2013. Unlike Housing Benefit, there is no “good cause” nor much scope for flexibility or discretion. Backdating is restricted to a “maximum” of 1 month, before the date of claim. Full details can be found here
AM made his claim for Universal Credit on 16th March 2020. On 16th April, exactly one month later, the Decision Maker awarded UC from his date of claim. On 23rd July AM, assisted by his parents, made representations his award should have started from 13th February, the date his parents stopped receiving “Child Tax Credits” for him. This was refused and subsequently appealed.
First-tier tribunal ruling
When the case was discussed at lower tier tribunal, DWP argued, that for backdating to be considered, AM should have made his request during the application process or, before a decision was made. As he hadn’t done so, there was no means to backdate the award as he requested.
The First-tier Tribunal dismissed the appeal, on the basis, “the Appellant’s request to make a backdated claim was made late”. However, permission was granted to allow appeal to the Upper tier. Apparently, the issue under dispute was occurring regularly at First tier level, so it was decided to set up a three-judge panel to consider the issues and provide a ruling.
Upper tier Tribunal Judgement
The Upper Tribunal held – “there was, and could be, no requirement for a claimant to state in their universal credit claim, the period in respect of which it was made” – (i.e., whether “backdating” was required or not). It said, the question of whether a claimant came within the rules, so as to allow their claim to commence from an earlier date was simply an issue for the Decision Maker to determine, like any other aspect the claim. It also noted, there currently is no place on the electronic UC claim form where AM, or any other claimant, could indicate their desire for backdating.
In AM’s case, the Upper Tribunal held that where a claimant fails to request backdating when they initially submit their claim of universal credit or amend their claim, to reflect such a request, before it is decided, they can still obtain backdating by requesting a “revision” of the original decision. In AM’s case, his award was backdated for the maximum period of 1 month, prior to date his claim was first submitted i.e., 16th February 2020. There is therefore no requirement for a claimant to make their request for backdating at the claim stage for it to be considered.
So, what should you advise tenants?
If you’re assisting someone who has e.g., a learning, mental health, or physical disability, that has contributed to his/her delay in making the UC claim, on time, advise them to alert their Work Coach or Account Manager, as early as possible, so the question of backdating can be assessed ASAP and ideally, before a decision is made, which is usually 1 month after claim is submitted. Otherwise, like AM, they’ll have to resort to requesting, a Mandatory Reconsideration.
CPAG, who represented AM, have asked DWP to urgently amend the online claim form, so it asks claimants whether they would like their claim to commence from an earlier date.
If you require clarification on any aspect of this article, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or 07733 080 389
UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd