Universal Credit (UC) is assessed and paid in arrears based on your circumstances during each monthly assessment period. You assessment period begins on the date you first make your claim and lasts for 1 calendar month. Your circumstances (such as earnings, who you live with and any savings or capital) during this period will affect your Universal Credit amount.
Depending on your pay frequency from work, there can be occasions where multiple wages from work can fall into the same assessment period, meaning your UC amount will fluctuate.
Below you'll find a brief guide as to how different work pay-cycles can impact your Universal Credit.
If you’re paid weekly by your employer, you will get either 4 or 5 payments of earnings within a Universal Credit assessment period.
There will be 10 months of the year when two wages are counted in an assessment period, and two months of the year when three wages are counted in your assessment period.
For 11 months of the year 1 wage will be counted. One assessment period per year will have 2 wages counted. It is important to be aware that the assessment period you have 2 wages counted might be different to the actual month you have two wages paid.
As you are paid once a month you should only have one wage counted by UC each month unless your wage date changes slightly each month (weekends and holidays) and your employer reports on the actual day paid. This could result in two wages in one assessment period and zero wages in another. You can challenge this.
Claim dates and pay frequency
When you are paid monthly it is a good idea to try and keep your claim date away from the day you are paid from your employer to minimise the chance of having 2 pay days falling into the same assessment period.
For example, if you are paid on the last working day of the month it's recommended not to make your claim for UC at the end of the month, always try and leave at least a few days before and after your pay day before you make your claim.
Remember UC is paid in arrears and any wages reported in your assessment period will be counted and used to calculate a deduction for income.
This can be difficult if you have a fluctuating wage and are paid near the beginning of your assessment period.
For example: if you have a good month with plenty hours your wage will mean less UC. However if you are paid at the start of the assessment period this wage may be long gone by the time you get your UC award – which has been reduced due to the higher wage. If this is followed by a month where you don’t have many hours and a low wage it can be hard as the lower wage isn’t reflected in your UC until almost a month later.