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Changes to challenging or appealing a benefit decision

Date: 28 October 2013

The rules for challenging or appealing a benefit decision for most benefits paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are changing from 28 October 2013.

The new rules already apply to Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment.

What’s changed?

If you disagree with a decision about your benefit that is dated on or after 28 October, you now have to ask the DWP to look at the decision again before you can appeal. This is known as mandatory reconsideration.

You can't appeal until you get a decision from the DWP on your request for a reconsideration. If you disagree with the outcome of the reconsideration and you want to appeal, you must send your appeal directly to the appeal tribunal, not to the DWP. This is known as direct lodgement.

Mandatory reconsideration applies to all DWP benefits and some child maintenance decisions for decisions dated on or after 28 October. The DWP decision letter will say whether mandatory consideration applies and tell you how to ask for it.

If your decision is dated before 28 October and it's not about UC or PIP, you still have a choice about whether to ask the DWP to look at their decision again or to appeal straight to a tribunal.

Will you still get your benefits while you’re waiting for the outcome of a reconsideration?

For most DWP benefits, if you’re asking for a reconsideration or appealing a claim that’s been refused, you won’t be paid any benefit until the outcome has been decided.

If you were awarded a DWP benefit at a reduced rate and you’re asking for a mandatory reconsideration because you think you should get a higher rate, the benefit will continue to be paid at the reduced rate until the outcome has been decided.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Under the old rules, you could skip the reconsideration stage and move straight to appeal, so your ESA could be paid while you were waiting for the appeal to take place.

Now, if your claim is refused as a result of the Work Capability Assessment, you will no longer be entitled to payment of ESA while your decision is being reconsidered. You will have to wait for the outcome of the mandatory reconsideration.

If you then decide to appeal, ESA will start to be paid at the assessment rate while you wait for the appeal hearing.

While you're waiting for a decision on your request for a mandatory reconsideration, you won't be entitled to:

  • hardship payments, unless you’ve been sanctioned.
  • an advance payment of benefit.

You may have to consider claiming Jobseeker's Allowance while waiting for a decision on your ESA. However, you’ll need to be willing to look for work and meet the usual Jobcentre requirements.

Changes to appeals forms

If you're appealing a decision dated on or after 28 October 2013, you should use the SSCS1 appeal form. You should also use this form for all UC and PIP appeals.

The old GL24 forms should only be used for benefit decisions other than UC and PIP where the decision is dated earlier than 28 October.

Which benefits aren’t affected by the changes?

The following benefits are not affected by these changes:

  • Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Child Benefit.

Further information

You can find more information about changes to the appeals process on the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk.

Citizens Advice

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