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Challenging or appealing against benefit decisions

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last updated: 28 May 2016 report a problem

new rules for appealing against or challenging benefit decisions

In this article
• The process for challenging a benefit or department for work and pensions decision
• Suspension of benefits during the process
• Changes to employment and support allowance (ESA)

Changes were made to the process for challenging or appealing against decisions about Personal Independence Payment and Universal Credit on 28 October 2013. You will need to make sure you use the right form and follow the correct process as depending on when the decision was made you may be able to challenge the decision under the old rules.

The law
Under the old appeals process, you could choose whether to ask the DWP to look at the decision again or appeal straight to a tribunal. If you decided to appeal, the DWP would pass your appeal to HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
What the law means In most cases, it is too late to challenge the decision, however, the DWP can accept late challenges using the GL24 form up to 13 months after it was made if you have a valid reason (e.g. you have been in hospital, coping with bereavement or living abroad).

Benefits not affected by the changes in process:
• Housing Benefit
• Council Tax Reduction
• Tax Credits
• Child Benefit

For decisions made on or after 28 October 2013
In a procedure known as ‘mandatory reconsideration’ you will have to complete the SSCS1 appeal form to request the DWP to review the decision before you will be allowed to appeal against it.
If you are not in agreement with their reconsideration decision and you still want to appeal, the next step is something referred to as ‘direct lodgement’ which means you will have to appeal to the appeal tribunal directly. All DWP benefits are subject to this mandatory reconsideration process including some decisions that have been made about child maintenance.

The DWP decision letter will say whether mandatory reconsideration applies and tell you how to ask for it. You will usually be able to ask for a reconsideration over the phone or in writing.
For decisions dated before 28th October that do not relate to Universal Credit or Personal Independence Payment you still have the option to request the DWP to review its decision or you can appeal directly to the tribunal.

Suspension of benefits during the process
For the majority of benefits paid by the DWP, your benefit will be suspended until the final decision for reconsideration has been made.

If the DWP has granted your benefit but you disagree with the amount, you will continue to receive the lower rate until the final decision has been made following mandatory reconsideration.

Changes to employment and support allowance
Prior to these new rules coming into effect you could bypass the reconsideration stage and go direct to appeal without your ESA being affected whilst you waited for the appeal.

Since the changes, if your Work Capability Assessment leads to a refusal of your claim, you will no longer have an entitlement to ESA payments until such time as the mandatory reconsideration process is concluded and a decision made. After you have received the mandatory reconsideration result, your ESA payments will begin again but at whatever rate has been decided. You can then appeal against this and continue to receive ESA whilst waiting for the appeal to be heard.

You will not have an entitlement to an advance payment of benefit or hardship payment (unless you have been sanctioned) as long as your request for mandatory consideration is in process.
Whilst waiting for a decision regarding your ESA, you might consider claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and actively looking for employment in order to meet the requirements of the Jobcentre.

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