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Backdating claims - Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support

You can claim Housing Benefit (HB) or Council Tax Support (CTS) for a past period - this is called backdating.

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The start date of your benefit claim

The date your claim will start depends on how and when you claim HB or CTS.

For HB and CTS we normally start your claim from the Monday after you first made contact with us or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), but only if you return a properly completed claim form within one month of us issuing it. If the form is not returned in that time, the claim will start from the Monday after we get your claim form.

Contact can be in person, by phone, email or in writing. It is therefore very important that you contact as soon as you want to claim. Get your claim form or letter to us as soon as possible because it affects the date your benefit claim will start from.

Difficulty with paying rent and arrears

If you are experiencing difficulties paying your rent, or you have got into arrears, you may need to make sure you request backdating for an earlier period. This is more likely if you are of working age. Pensioners can have their Housing Benefit claim treated as made up to 3 months earlier, without the need to request backdating. Read the instructions the rules on backdating benefit below.

The rules on backdating Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support

We can backdate HB or CTS if you can prove that there is good cause or reason(s) why you were unable to apply for your benefit earlier. If you disagree with the date your claim starts from for any other reason you can appeal against the decision.

To request backdating either

Good cause

There is no formal definition of 'good cause', each case will be decided according to its own individual situation. There are no formal time limits on making a backdate request, but the maximum period that a benefit claim can be backdated is 6 months

In order for a claim to be backdated we must be satisfied that:

  • you have shown good cause for failing to claim earlier and
  • that good cause existed continuously during the period for which backdating is being requested

You will need to show continuous good cause for not claiming earlier and we must be satisfied that your circumstances, during this time were such that any reasonable person of your age and experience would also have failed to claim benefit.

You have to prove "good cause" but we must take account of all the facts of your case.

Some examples of when you may have "good cause" are:

  • if you did not immediately claim benefit after leaving hospital
  • if you were ill and had no-one to make a claim on your behalf
  • if you did not understand that you could claim benefit perhaps because of age, inexperience or language difficulties.
  • if you have suffered a recent family bereavement.

What happens when a backdated claim is made?

Your claim will be considered by a Benefits Officer. The more information and evidence you give in support of your claim the quicker a decision can be made. We will confirm this in writing. Any backdated award of HB or CTS will be paid in the normal way.

If we have decided that you have not shown "good cause" and that we cannot backdate your claim, the reasons for this will be explained in our letter.

You will then have the right of revision or appeal against our decision not to backdate your claim. This must be made within one calendar month starting from the day after the date of our letter telling you we have not backdated your claim.

See also

Contact us

Merton Benefits Service
PO Box 610
Merton Civic Centre
London Road
Morden
SM4 5ZT

Email: housing.benefits@merton.gov.uk
Telephone: 020 8274 4903
Fax: 020 8545 3960

This page was last updated on Thursday 18 December 2014

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