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.

7 comments on “10 Tips on how to get your Benefits more quickly

  • i got a sanction on my benefit which ends 27/7/13. iv had no money for 2 month im sitting in dark no eleci or gas.can i get a sta

    • Hi Karen,

      Unfortunately Short Term Benefit Advances are specifically prohibited when you are on a sanction, so the answer is no, a STBA is not going to be a practical answer in your case.

      However, it should be possible to get help from your local authority as they have been given funding to fill the gap that has been left due to the closure of the Social Fund.

      Depending on the part of the UK that you live in, it may be the case that you have to be ‘referred’ by a recognised agency to be able to access help. I would suggest that you either contacted your jobcentre and asked that they refer you to the appropriate “LOCAL PROVISION” in your area, OR drop me an email ( please dont send any personally identifiable info- Just your town will do)and let me know what part of the country you live in and I will dig around and see if there are any self referal options available to you.

  • I have a few queries you may be able to help with.
    1. The cost of living is continuing rising, do benefits rise at the equivalent to allow people to live? Could you send me an example?
    2. If no who is responsible for this? What can we do? Long term we all pay the further behind people get= a bigger mess to clean up later.
    3. Who has created the formula that dictates the amount of money a person needs to live? When was it last updated? Please give an example just for a basic claim.
    4. Example-not just about food and shelter. People on basic benefits are being discriminated against- brown waste bins now have to be paid for. Basic benefits do not allow for this= no money, no pay, no bin.= Exclusion = consequences for using other bin, what are they supposed to do? = They do not have the means to recycle it costs=they are left in continuing cycle= nothing changes= less recycled= more consequences for all long term. How do we begin to change this?

    • Hi Sharon,

      I am sorry to say that I can not answer your questions, and am at a loss as to who would be able/will to answer these openly for you.

      I totally agree with the thrust of your questions, however feel that the Government are making a concious effort to ensure that people can not survive for ever on benefits, and that lack of an increase in the rates awarded is a reflection of this.

  • Can anyone who has been sanctioned from JSA apply for a NIL income claim for Housing Benefit.
    Can someone sanctioned from JSA make a claim for Income Support as that benefit is for people with no income, or a small income.

  • Me and my partner made our joint claim for jobseekers online and attended the interview the next day, now the women told us we could apply for a stba but I can’t seem to find a number that actually puts me through… Now because we made a joint claim I’m going to miss a weeks payment which is quite a struggle when we’ve got a 10month old son..

  • I have been waiting since march for a decision on my esa application, have had to resend as they lost some of the documents and now it has been pending a decision for 10 days, how do they expect people to manage, I was on esa until march when it was stopped without warning as I was on a contribution based, but I was ill at the time so now its just a long long wait!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *