Challenging a benefits decision
Ask for a written statement of reasons
Decision letters should come with a written statement of reasons, for example, to explain why a claim was rejected or why benefits have been reduced.
However, if this wasn’t made clear, or you’re unsure of the reasons behind the decision or haven’t received the written statement, get in touch with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to ask it to explain what happened. The contact details will be on your decision letter.
It may be that a simple mistake has been made and a quick phone call can clear things up. If you’re still unsure of the reasons behind the decision at this stage, ask for a more detailed written statement of reasons.
Request a mandatory reconsideration
If you’re still not happy with the decision, contact the DWP to request a mandatory reconsideration. It must explain why it thinks the decision is wrong and include any evidence to support this.
Be aware that this reconsideration must be requested within one month of receiving the original decision, unless there are exceptional circumstances, for example, if you’re in hospital.
The DWP is obliged to take another look at your case and send a response, known as a mandatory reconsideration notice (sometimes known as a written statement of reasons).
Appeal to the tribunal
If you’re not happy with the response to the mandatory reconsideration, you can submit an appeal to the tribunal. Be warned that a formal appeal will not usually be considered if you haven’t already requested a mandatory reconsideration. Appeals must be submitted within a month of either:
- the date of the mandatory reconsideration notice (if you have one) or
- the date of the decision you’re appealing.
For more information about how to appeal to the tribunal, the mandatory reconsideration notice and which forms to complete for which benefits, visit gov.uk. The appeal procedure might be slightly different depending on which benefit you have applied for. Gov.uk explains this, too.
Appealing on someone else’s behalf
You can appeal on someone else’s behalf if that person has formally given you permission to do so. You don’t have to be legally qualified to do this. You could be a family member, or anyone else the person has asked to represent them.
If your loved one doesn’t have mental capacity, you would need to have Power of Attorney (in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland) in place, or be a court-appointed deputy or have powers to choose an appointee from the DWP to challenge the decision.
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