May 16, 2013 | Benefits Loan | 7 Comments In the UK the process for claiming state Benefits including Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support Pension Credit and Employment and Support Allowance can take anywhere from 10 days to 2 months depending on the benefit claimed and your personal circumstances, however you can speed up the claim process by following 10 basic rules. Understanding the claim process Usually the Department For Work and Pensions (DWP) work to a target of around 16 days from your initial contact to your first payment, and during this time they aim to collect enough information to allow a benefit processing officer to go through your application and make a decision as to whether you meet the criteria for the Benefit that you have claimed and how much you are entitled to. The process that your application will go through is should be very straightforward, however if you fail to provide information that is needed to process your claim, it is likely that you will add 10 days to the process each time! Day 1 ???????????????????????? Apply online or by telephone Day 2-5????????? Attend a Work Focused Interview at the JobCentre, where your application and supporting documents are collected Day 2-5????????? Your application is sent internally to the Benefit Centre dealing with your area. Day 4-7 ???????? Your application is received at the BC, sorted and passed to a New Claims team and logged in date order and given a Target Date ( this is the planned processing date) Day 10-15????? Your application is checked, and if all correct processed If your application is successful, payments can be issued right away or after your next payment cycle if you have not yet passed one, however incomplete applications will date longer Day 16-30?????? If the application is not complete, or further information is needed the processing officer will write out to you, typically using 2nd class mail envelope and your claim is stored until the letter/information is returned and then re allocated (see day 4-7) Day? 45?????????? If further information has bee requested and is not received within 1 calendar month your claim is classed as being defective, and your application closed. As you can see, the key to speeding up this process is to provide all information that is asked for at your initial interview, otherwise the benefit processing officer will have to write out to you and request this information- delaying your claim by weeks. Here are our top 10 tips on making sure that your application is processed quickly Apply as soon as you are able to Have your National insurance number to hand Make sure you have some PHOTO I.D. Provide a copy of all bank and savings statements for the last 3 months Provide a copy of your tenancy agreement Provide a P45 (if just finishing work) Provide any pension or investment documentation if you have these Call any other benefits ( TAX CREDITS) and tell them that you are making another claim Make sure you attend your initial claim meetings on time Cant wait 15 days? If you are in severe hardship you can speed up the process even more depending on what benefit you have claimed, and assuming that you have already provided all of the information that they will need to make a decision on your application. Most benefit customers are aware that it used to be possible to apply for an Alignment to Benefit Crisis Loan from the Social Fund, and that this was one of the areas if support that was targeted and removed when the new welfare reforms started to take effect on April 1st 2013. Not as many people are aware that whilst the Alignment to Benefit Crisis Loans were ended and the Discretionary Social fund disbanded, that a new provision was set up to try to eliminate the need for a Crisis Loan. These are called Short Term Benefit Advances and work in a similar way to the old Crisis Loans. The idea is that if you are unable to wait for your claim to be processed, and you or your family face a risk to your health and safety, that you can apply for payment of your benefits even before your application is processed. What IS odd, is that the process to deciding if you can have a Short term Benefit Advance is much shorter that the benefit claims process, however it is practically the same except that it has 2-3 MORE steps, but can be completed in 48 hours? Here is our quick-fire guide on applying for a STBA Call the Benefit Centre dealing with your application to Benefits and ask SPECIFICALLY for a ?Short Term Benefit Advance ? An application is taken over the phone and passed to a dedicated team The team go and find your application to Benefits and will attempt to process the claim on that day If the claim CAN be processed (even if its not due to be) it will be processed and payment issued THAT DAY If the clam CANT be processed fully, a clerical assessment is made as to whether your claim is likely to be accepted. If your claim is likely to be accepted a STBA is considered and awarded THAT DAY The Short Term benefit Advance system is discretionary, and you have to meet specific Criteria to be able eligible for a payment: Have recently made a new claim ? or have an existing claim to any of the following benefits ? Jobseeker?s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit, Pension Credit, State Pension or Carers Allowance. Be likely to receive enough benefit for the STBA loan to be recovered from Be able to repay the loan from your benefits within 12 weeks ( this can be extended to 24 weeks, however this is in exceptional situations Be able to show that if a loan is not made, that you or your family at serious risk or danger. Not be able to find alternative funding anywhere else. Even if your STBA application is not accepted, in most cases payments of benefits can and will be made much faster than just leaving your application to Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit or Employment and Support Allowance in the main process, as it will ensure that your application is looked at within days rather then weeks.