UC Claim Period Flexibility Confirmed: Impactful Ruling in Secretary of State v Abdul Miah Case

Citation: [2024] EWCA Civ 186
Judgment on


The case of The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Abdul Miah [2024] EWCA Civ 186 delves into the complexities pertaining to backdating claims for Universal Credit (UC). Specifically, the appeal focused on whether the scope of a UC claim, defined as the period for which UC was to be awarded, could be revised or appealed against after the Secretary of State had made an initial determination under section 8 of the Social Security Act 1998. This legal discussion is significant for professionals engaged with UK’s social security law as it touches upon claimant rights and administrative procedures.

Key Facts

The claimant, Mr. Abdul Miah, represented by his father as his litigation friend, sought to claim UC effective from 16 February 2020, following the cessation of child tax credit as he reached 20 years of age. The claim was made on 16 March 2020, and a decision to award UC from this date was made on 16 April 2020. Subsequent requests for backdating the claim to 16 February 2020 were refused by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on the grounds that they did not have the power to backdate a claim after the original decision. The primary legal question concerned whether the request for backdating could trigger a revision of the original decision under section 9 of the Social Security Act 1998.

The court addressed the foundational principles of claim and entitlement under the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (SSAA 1992) and the regulations applicable to the procedure for making UC claims and decisions about such claims. Specifically, the following legal principles were discussed:

  1. Claimant Autonomy: Rooted in section 1(1) of the SSAA 1992, enshrining the principle that benefit entitlement is dependent on a claim being made within the prescribed manner and time.
  2. Power to Revise: Addressed in section 9 of the SSA 1998, dealing with the power of the Secretary of State to revise decisions, including the scope to alter determinations and the right to appeal.
  3. Closed Claims and Revision: The court examined whether the period of a claim was such a definitive parameter that it could not be altered after the determination under section 8 of the SSA 1998.
  4. Kerr Duty: The duty detailed in Kerr v Department for Social Development [2004] UKHL 23, which is the inquisitorial approach adopted by the Secretary of State where necessary inquiries are prompted by the information provided in a claim.

The court also referenced R(IB) 2/04 and R(SB) 9/84, which mirror the current legal challenges, revealing that such backdating disputes were not new and highlighted similar interpretational challenges in the past.


The Court of Appeal, led by Lord Justice Underhill, held that the refusal by the Secretary of State to backdate the claim based on lack of power was incorrect. The critical conclusion was that the period covered by a UC claim is not such an immutable parameter that it impedes any post-determination revisions or appeals. Thus, the period could be reconsidered under section 9 of the SSA 1998, and accordingly, the claimant’s mother’s request for backdating should have been treated as an application for revision. This decision underlines a more flexible approach to the modification or extension of the period covered by a UC claim.


The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Abdul Miah’s case articulates the position that the scope of a UC claim, specifically in the context of the period for which the benefit is claimed, is not a fixed parameter immune to alteration following the initial determination by the Secretary of State. This verdict establishes that such matters can indeed be revised or appealed under the current legislative framework. The Court’s decision reinforces the adaptive nature of social security law that aims to ensure claimants receive their correct level of benefits, aligning with the intent to provide a fair and investigative approach to claim determinations. The discussion in this case will aid UK legal professionals in navigating the procedural nuances of backdating UC claims for their clients.