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Challenging a decision about PIP or other benefits

If you do not agree with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decision about your claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or other benefit, you can appeal.

Reasons for appeal

You might want to appeal if:

  • your claim is turned down
  • you’ll get less money than you thought
  • your claim review date is too soon

If you are appealing because your condition has got worse, try to speak to a benefits adviser.

Find a local benefits adviser (Turn 2 Us)

Challenge a benefit decision (mandatory reconsideration) GOV.UK

Warning Appeals

Consider appealing if you have a benefit claim rejected.

Government figures show that around 75% of people who appeal have their benefits decision changed at tribunal.

Appeals can lead to:

  • your award increasing
  • your award staying the same
  • or you losing an award

Your chances are better if you have a trained adviser to represent you.

Stages of appeal

There can be up to 3 stages of appeal, depending on how far you want to go in challenging the DWP’s decision.

These stages are:

  • mandatory reconsideration
  • a tribunal appeal and hearing
  • further appeals on points of law

Asking DWP to reconsider

If you want to challenge a benefit decision you have 1 calendar month from the date on your decision letter to ask the DWP to reconsider.

You can either:

If you choose to write a letter, include all the information required by the online form.

Challenging a PIP decision (Citizens Advice)

If you fail the Work Capability Assessment for ESA, you may be able to go directly to appeal without going through mandatory reconsideration. You may get paid the basic rate of ESA until your appeal. Your decision letter will say if you can appeal straight away.

Warning Missing the deadline

If you miss the 1-month deadline, you can still ask the DWP to reconsider, if it’s within 13 months of the date on your decision letter.

You must have a good reason for missing the deadline. Reasons include:

  • you were given wrong information by a benefits adviser
  • you were caring for an ill partner or relative
  • you’ve been mentally or physically unwell

The government says it should take 2 weeks to reconsider their decision, but you should be prepared for it to take longer. If you think it’s taking too long, you could try calling the department dealing with your benefit claim (GOV.UK).

Complaining about the service you’ve received: benefits and tax credits (Citizens Advice)

Tribunal appeal

If the DWP still does not change the decision after a mandatory reconsideration, you can appeal to an independent panel called a tribunal.

Apply to a tribunal (Citizens Advice)

An appeal can be complicated and challenging. Ask for emotional or practical help from relatives, friends, a support worker or health professional.

When appealing to a tribunal you will need:

You have 1 month from the date shown on your Mandatory Reconsideration Notice to submit your claim.

Warning Sending your documents

You must send your completed SSCS1 form and Mandatory Reconsideration Notice to HM Courts and Tribunals Service, not to the DWP. The address is on the form.

Make copies of these documents and send them by registered post so you have a record of when you sent them.

After they have received and checked your forms, the HM Courts and Tribunals Service will ask the DWP to respond within 28 days.

Get expert benefits support

It's vital to get support preparing your documents from someone who knows about how tribunals work and what your rights are.

Find a local benefits adviser (Turn 2 Us)

The tribunal hearing

After the DWP has responded, the HM Courts and Tribunals Service will tell you:

  • the DWP’s response
  • what happens next
  • details about your first tier tribunal hearing, including waiting times

You can ask for a written hearing, but it's better to attend in person. This will give you a chance to show how your condition affects you. Tribunal members can ask you questions and make a better informed decision.

The meeting place should be accessible for you. You can also take someone with you for support.

Challenging a PIP decision: the tribunal hearing (Citizens Advice)

Taking someone to the tribunal hearing

The tribunal will look at the evidence you submitted in your appeal documents. Get support from someone who knows about benefits to prepare the documents you send to the tribunal. 

Tribunals can be stressful. Having someone with you can help. They can help you by reminding you:

  • what’s in your appeal documents
  • how much your condition affects you, for example how much pain you’re in on a bad day

Anyone who can support you with these things will help. They could be:

  • your partner, a friend or family member
  • a carer or health professional

They could also be someone who knows about benefits, like an advocate from a local disability group, trade union representative or social worker.

Advocacy (Disability Rights UK)

If you cannot find someone

You could ask for your appeal to happen over a video or phone call if that would make it easier for someone else to take part.

You can ask for another date for your tribunal, but this will probably mean that you will need to wait longer.

If you win your appeal

The Tribunal will decide the rate and length of your award.

You will get back pay from the date you claimed.

The DWP will apply the new rate usually within 4 weeks.

It is rare for DWP to challenge a decision.

Further appeal

If you’re thinking of appealing against the tribunal’s decision, contact your local benefits adviser.

Find a benefits adviser (Turn 2 Us)

Try to get free legal advice before appealing further.

Finding free or affordable legal help (Citizens Advice)

Further appeal to the Upper Tribunal

Last reviewed by Scope on: 17/06/2021

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