How to challenge a benefit decision
What can you do if you are unhappy with a benefit decision?
If you are unhappy with a decision about your benefits or Tax Credits, first, you normally have to ask the department to reconsider their decision, called a mandatory reconsideration. If unhappy with that decision, you can appeal to an independent tribunal. You can go straight to appeal for Housing Benefit.
- You receive a written decision about your benefits from the DWP or HMRC.
- If you are unhappy with this decision you can ask for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. You should do this within one month but this can be extended for special reasons. It is best to do this in writing. Supply as much supporting evidence as you can. You can request a reconsideration outside these time limits if for example, the decision was due to an ‘official error’ or the decision was made in ignorance of the facts. Called an ‘any time revision.’
- The DWP looks at their decision again.
- They may also telephone you to explain and discuss their decision.
- You should receive a detailed mandatory reconsideration notice letter, including how to appeal.
- If you are unhappy with this decision, you have one month to send in the form ‘SSCS1’ directly to the court and tribunal service – except Housing Benefit appeals are sent to the Local Authority. Some appeals can be made online. You must also enclose the DWP mandatory reconsideration letter with your form. The one month time limit can be extended for 12 months with special reasons.
You can get the form ‘SSCS1’ form from the DWP, an advice agency or on Gov.uk
- If the appeal contains further evidence the DWP will be asked to reconsider its decision.
- The tribunal service will write to you and you must reply.
- You can to attend a hearing if there one is needed. You will be told of the date.
If your mandatory reconsideration or appeal is made outside the allowed time, it may be accepted if there are reasonable circumstances.
If you want to make a complaint about delays and other administrative aspects of your benefit, there is a procedure and form.
Where can I get advice on making an appeal?
There are a range of benefit advice services available across Newcastle. Read the ‘Where to get benefit advice‘ booklet.
- Citizens Advice Newcastle (CAN) provide advice to anyone in Newcastle. Citizens Advice also have information on Challenging a decision or Appeals.
- Newcastle Welfare Rights Service provide advice to people in priority groups including those over 65. They have self help material on their website.
- Newcastle Student Law Office at Northumbria University offers a free legal service to people with a range of legal issues including benefits appeals.
- Disability North give disability related benefit advice, help with appeals and representation at tribunals
Other Useful Information
For more information on the appeals process visit:
Last updated: July 13, 2021