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Reasons you might disagree with a decision

You might want to challenge your decision if:

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

The first step is to ask the DWP to reconsider their decision. This is called a mandatory reconsideration. If you were still unhappy with the decision, then you would appeal.

If your condition gets worse, you can report this to the DWP. They will usually review your claim and send you a review form. Your benefits could go up or down. A benefits adviser could tell you if you could benefit from challenging a decision.

Find a local benefits adviser (Turn2us)

Support if appealing benefits affects your mental health

The appeal process can be stressful. It’s important to look after your wellbeing. If anxiety starts to affect other areas of your life, seek advice from your GP or a mental health organisation.

Support if claiming benefits affects your mental health

Benefit payments when challenging a decision

Each benefit is different. What happens to your payments can also depend on your circumstances.

Contact the DWP to find out what might happen to your benefits if you challenge the decision.

Financial support

If you are getting less money, you might be entitled to support. This can include benefits and grants.

Help with your energy bills

Finding and applying for grants

There’s also support if you are in debt.

Budgeting to stay out of debt

Help and advice when you are in debt

Mandatory reconsideration

The first stage of challenging a DWP decision is mandatory reconsideration.

Benefits that have mandatory reconsideration include:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Attendance Allowance (AA)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), either contribution or income-related
  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Carer’s Allowance (CA)

Challenge a benefit decision (mandatory reconsideration) (GOV.UK)

To start mandatory reconsideration

You can either:

  • send a completed mandatory reconsideration request (CRMR1 form)
  • write a letter telling them why you disagree with their decision

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

Mandatory reconsideration (CRMR1) form and guidance (GOV.UK)

Warning 1 month deadline

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 ask for mandatory reconsideration.

For example: Your decision letter from DWP has a date of 1 September on it. This means that your deadline is 1 October.

If you think your letter will not get to the DWP in time, let them know. The number will be on your decision letter.

If you miss the deadline

If you miss the 1 month deadline, you can still ask the DWP to reconsider, as long as 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 someone who is ill
  • you’ve been mentally or physically unwell

In some circumstances, DWP will reconsider a decision after 13 months. If you are unsure, ask a benefits adviser.

Find a local benefits adviser (Turn 2 Us)

Waiting for the DWP to reconsider their decision

The DWP says it can take 2 months to reconsider their decision, but you should be prepared for it to take longer. To find out about your claim, try calling the department dealing with your benefit claim.

Complaints procedure - Department for Work and Pensions (GOV.UK)

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

If you fail the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for ESA

You may be able to go directly to appeal without going through mandatory reconsideration. If you are unsure, check your decision letter or ask your Work Coach.

If you think your ESA decision is wrong (Citizens Advice)

Universal Credit

If you are challenging a Universal Credit decision, you can use your journal to ask for mandatory reconsideration. Make a copy of your journal however you can. For example, you could take a photo, copy and paste or print it. If you do not have access to a journal, contact DWP.

Sign in to your Universal Credit account (GOV.UK)

Housing Benefit

If you do not agree with a decision about Housing Benefit, you need to contact your local authority and make a request in writing.

Appeal a Housing Benefit decision (GOV.UK)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Give specific reasons why you disagree. Use your decision letter, statement of reasons and medical assessment report to do this.

Challenging a PIP decision (Citizens Advice)

Attendance Allowance

You may want to challenge the decision because you have got no support or less support than you need.

Challenging an Attendance Allowance decision - mandatory reconsideration (Citizens Advice)

If you want to challenge the decision because your condition is worse now, the process is different.

Attendance Allowance: If your condition gets worse

Stages of the appeal process

If you disagree with the mandatory reconsideration, you can appeal.

There can be up to 2 stages of appeal. These stages are:

  • Tribunal
  • Upper Tribunal

The DWP should respond within 28 days

After HM Courts and Tribunals Service receive your form and documents, they will ask the DWP to respond within 28 days.

The tribunal service will send you all the documents which will be looked at. A copy is also sent to others involved in your case. This is called the ‘appeal bundle’. When you receive this, you should:

  • read the documents
  • mark any bits you think are important, for example with sticky notes
  • send any further evidence to the tribunal if it’s not in the bundle

Get advice if you are unsure about what evidence you need.

Warning Appeals

Consider appealing if you have a benefit claim rejected.

Government figures show that around 3 in 4 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

A benefits adviser can let you know if you have a strong case to appeal the decision.

Send missing evidence as soon as you can

Your appeal has the best chance if the tribunal has the correct evidence. They need the evidence in advance.

If you bring new evidence with you to the tribunal hearing, they might not look at it. But you can send further evidence before your tribunal hearing.

If the evidence you need is in your bundle, you do not have to send anything.

1 month deadline

You have 1 calendar month from the date on your appeal bundle letter to send evidence to the tribunal service.

Further evidence can include:

  • documents that are not in your appeal bundle
  • new evidence you now have

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. This is also known as a first-tier tribunal.

Apply to a tribunal (Citizens Advice)

An appeal can be complicated and challenging so do not be afraid to ask for emotional or practical help from relatives, friends, a support worker or health professional.

You do not have to have an adviser at the tribunal. You can represent yourself.

Representing yourself in court or tribunal

A benefit expert could help

A benefits adviser could help you to get the best outcome if you need support understanding:

  • how tribunal works
  • what your rights are
  • the kind of written evidence you need, for example how you meet the descriptor for an activity that would make you eligible for PIP

Find a local benefits adviser (Turn 2 Us)

Requesting a tribunal

When appealing to a tribunal you will need:

  • the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice sent by the DWP. If you’ve lost it, contact the office for that benefit at DWP and ask for a new one
  • to complete the appeal form (SSCS1) SSCS1:

Appeal a social security benefits decision (Notice of appeal) (GOV.UK)

You have 1 month from the date shown on your Mandatory Reconsideration Notice to submit your claim. If you miss the 1 month deadline, you can still ask the DWP for an appeal if you have a reason.

Warning Sending your SSCS1 form and documents

You must send them to HM Courts and Tribunals Service, not to the DWP. The address is on the SSCS1 form.

Make copies before you send your form and documents.

Being able to show that you sent your form and supporting evidence is important. This is because your documents might get lost in the post.

A receipt showing proof of postage is free. You can only ask for a receipt if you post it at a post office. This shows that you have posted your documents but you will not be told when they arrive.

Some types of postage also show that the item arrived. These are more expensive. For example:

  • tracked
  • signed for

The tribunal hearing

After the DWP has responded, the HM Courts and Tribunals Service will send you a letter including:

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

You can ask for a written hearing, but it's usually better to attend in person. In person can include:

  • face to face
  • video call
  • phone call

This could give you a chance to show how your condition affects you. Tribunal members can ask you questions and make a better informed decision.

If you choose to attend, you’ll get 14 days notice of when and where your hearing will take place.

The meeting place should be accessible for you. Contact the tribunal if you have any access needs. They may ask you to explain why you need this adjustment. For example, your condition means you need to lie down to manage pain.

You can also take someone with you for support.

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

Appealing an ESA decision (Citizens Advice)

Taking someone to the tribunal hearing

Tribunals can be stressful. Having someone with you can help.

Someone can support you to:

  • remember what’s in your appeal documents
  • talk about how much your condition affects you
  • explain how much pain you have on a bad day
  • see that what might be usual or easy for you might not be to others

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
  • an advocate
  • trade union representative
  • social worker

Disability Rights UK has a list of advocacy organisations who could help.

If your case is complex, having someone who understands the benefits process can help.

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. If the amount has increased, you will get back pay from either:

  • the date you claimed or
  • the date you challenged the decision

This will depend on the benefit and why you appealed.

The DWP will apply the new rate within 4 weeks. It is rare for DWP to challenge a decision.

Further appeal

If you disagree with the outcome of the first-tier tribunal, this is normally the end of the appeal process.

An upper tribunal can only happen if there was an error of law at the first-tier tribunal.

Further appeal to the Upper Tribunal: examples of errors in law

Warning Live chat

We will be testing a live chat feature over the next few weeks.

We are aware there are still some accessibility issues. We are working to resolve these.

Start the chat service

Last reviewed by Scope on: 11/04/2022

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