Backdating Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction

If you have asked us to start your claim from a date before we received your application, you are asking for backdated Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction.

  • We can only award backdated entitlement under certain circumstances
  • There is a maximum amount of time we can backdate your entitlement

The rules for backdating a claim are different for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction and whether you are of state pension credit age or working age.

If you are working age and have made a claim for Housing Benefit, the maximum period we can look to backdate your claim is 1 month from the date we receive your request asking us to backdate your benefit.

We can only backdate your claim if there is continuous ‘good cause’ for failing to make your application sooner.

If you are working age and have made a claim for Council Tax Reduction, the maximum period we can look to backdate your claim is 6 months from the date we receive your request asking us to backdate your reduction.

We can only backdate your claim if there is continuous ‘good cause’ for failing to make your application sooner.

When you tell us why you were unable to make a claim earlier we will look at your reasons and consider the following:

  • Would the reasons you have given have stopped any reasonable person of a similar age, health and experience from claiming sooner.

If we feel that the reasons you have given would have stopped any reasonable person of a similar age, health and experience from claiming earlier then we would say ‘good cause’ has been shown.

If we feel that the reasons you have given would not have stopped any reasonable person of a similar age, health and experience from claiming earlier then we would say ‘good cause’ has not been shown and we will not backdate your claim.

Good cause is decided on a case by case basis. We cannot tell you if you have ‘good cause’ before reviewing your reasons for the delay in applying.

The onus is on you to show that there has been ‘good cause’ for the delay in applying.

When you tell us your reasons for not making a claim sooner you should include as much detail as possible about what has caused the delay and why it has stopped you from being able to claim.

Two of the more common reasons we receive for not claiming sooner are:

  1. Being unaware that I could claim
  2. The form was sent to the benefits department but not received

Neither of the above show ‘good cause’ for a delay on their own. If you request backdating of your claim for either of the above reasons there is a high chance your request will be refused.

Being unaware that you can claim Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction is not in itself ‘good cause’ for failing to claim sooner. This is because it is reasonable to expect a claimant to take steps to find out about any help that may be available to them as soon as possible.

If you tell us that you sent us an application form and we haven’t received it, we will ask you for proof of postage. Without proof of postage we have nothing to support the statement that the form has been sent to us and has gone missing. It is uncommon for us not to receive documents that have been sent to us.

As well as telling us about your reasons for not claiming sooner, you should also provide any documents you have that can confirm or support what you are telling us about.

Example:

Mike wanted to claim Council Tax Reduction from 04 June 2019 but he couldn’t because he was taken to hospital and did not return home until 26 June 2019.

Mike makes his application on 26 June 2019 and asks us to backdate his Council Tax Reduction claim to 04 June 2019. He sends his hospital letters showing the date he went in to hospital and the date he came home.

We can see that Mike was hospitalised and that he was unable to make a claim sooner than 26 June 2019.

Mike has shown ‘good cause’ and we can backdate his claim.

If you are of state pension credit age we can look to start your claim up to a maximum of 3 months before your application is received. We refer to this as your ‘take-on’ period.

The 3 month take-on period applies to state pension age claimants only.

The take-on period applies to both Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction.

You do not need to request the take-on period, this is something that will be considered automatically when we receive your claim.