The first step is to ask the DWP to reconsider their decision. Call them and ask for a “written statement of reasons”. This explains how they came to the decision. You can then ask them 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 appealing a 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.
You’ll get backpay to the date of the original claim if your mandatory reconsideration is successful.
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:
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.
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
If you disagree with the DWP decision after a mandatory reconsideration, you can appeal to an independent panel called a tribunal. This is also known as a first-tier tribunal.
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:
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
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.
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 backpay. This is usually at the increased amount from the date of your original claim. The DWP will apply the new rate within 4 weeks. It is rare for DWP to challenge a decision.
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.