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Housing benefit - backdated claims

You can claim Housing Benefit for a past period - this is called Backdating.

Your claim for benefit must be made in writing, either on a benefits claim form or by letter. Normally your claim will start from the first Monday after we receive your claim form or letter. It is important that you get your claim form or letter to us as soon as possible, because it affects the date from which your benefit claim will start. If we send you a claim form we will allow you 1 month to complete and return it to us. If you take longer than 1 month to return the form you might lose benefit.

A claim can only be backdated for a month if you are of working age, or three months if you are aged over 60, from the date you make your claim for backdated benefit.

In order for your claim to be backdated we must be satisfied that you have shown good cause for not claiming earlier and that your circumstances during this time were such that any reasonable person of your age and experience would have failed to claim benefit. We must be satisfied that the reason you were unable to claim for the period you want to backdate remained the same throughout that period.  

You have to show "good cause", and we may ask you to provide evidence of this. However we will always take account of all the facts of your case.

Some examples of "good cause" for not being able to claim your benefit could be that you:

  • did not immediately claim benefit after leaving hospital
  • were ill and had no-one to make a claim on your behalf
  • did not understand that you could claim benefit perhaps because of age, inexperience or language difficulties
  • were unable to manage your own affairs and you don't have an appointee
  • have suffered a recent family bereavement

Ignorance of the law on its own is not usually "good cause" unless there are exceptional circumstances. Generally you are expected to make reasonable enquiries about your right to benefit.

We will consider your claim. The more information and evidence you give in support of your claim the quicker we can make a decision. Sometimes we may need to write to you for more information or to ask you to come in for an informal interview. Your claim will usually be looked at within 10 days and we will send you a letter telling you of our decision.

If we have decided that you have not shown "good cause" and that we cannot backdate your claim, we will tell you the reasons for this in our letter. You will then have the right of appeal against our decision not to backdate your claim. See Benefit Appeals for more information.