Backdating Housing Benefit

You may be able to ask for your Housing Benefit to be backdated for a short period.

Rules for backdating of Housing Benefit

The rules about backdating of Housing Benefit are strict and depend on your circumstances:

Working age claimants

If you are of working age, your Housing Benefit can be backdated for a maximum of one month.

If you made your request before 1 April 2016 your Housing Benefit could be backdated for up to six months.

Your claim will only be backdated if you have a good reason (see below) for claiming late.

Pension age claimants

If you are of pension age, your Housing Benefit can be backdated for up to three months.

You do NOT have to show that you have a good reason for not having claimed earlier.

The rules about pension age are not as straightforward as they once were – the age you can claim varies according to when you were born.

You can calculate your state pension age here.

Good reasons for claiming late

If you are of working age, you must show a good reason for claiming late. The council looks at all your circumstances during the time you delayed making a claim to decide if the delay was reasonable.

You may have a good reason for claiming late if:

  • You have been unwell and unable to manage your personal affairs
  • You have experienced a personal trauma or bereavement
  • You have difficulty communicating in English and were not able to ask someone to help you
  • You have difficulty reading or writing and were not able to ask someone to help you
  • You were given information that was incorrect from someone who should know about benefits.

These are just examples of things that could have prevented you from claiming earlier. You might have other reasons. It is usually not enough to say you did not realise that you would have been entitled to benefit, unless there was a good reason why you could not have investigated this yourself.

How to request backdated Housing Benefit

If you want to ask for your benefit to be backdated, you will need to say this when you fill in your Housing Benefit claim form. Often there will be a question on the claim form asking if you want the benefit to be backdated and from what date. Remember that if you are of working age you can only have the benefit backdated for a maximum of one month.

Include with the claim form a letter or statement explaining why you did not claim earlier. You can adapt our sample letter in our free resources section to do this.

Enclose any evidence you have to back up your request. It is best if you can provide a letter from someone to support your reasons for not claiming earlier. This could be from your:

  • doctor
  • health visitor
  • social worker
  • housing officer, or
  • support worker.

Keep copies of your letter and evidence. Deliver the letter yourself if possible and get a receipt. Or use recorded delivery or get a certificate of posting.

I have handed in my backdate request – what next?

You will receive a letter notifying you of the Housing Benefit department’s decision. If you are not happy with the decision, you might be able to ask the Housing Benefit department to look at it again. You usually have one month to do this. You can get help about this from a welfare benefits specialist or get help from Shelter Cymru.

If you do not hear anything, you could phone or visit the Housing Benefit department. Ask if they have received your request and if they have all the information they require. Take a note of the name of the person you speak to, what they say and the date. Keep this note somewhere safe.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495

Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

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This page was last updated on: May 11, 2023

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.