If you are not happy with a decision regarding a benefit claim then you have the right to launch an appeal. You may want to appeal against the type of award (s) you have been given, the amount you have been awarded and/or the length of time the award will last for.
The first step in this process is to ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration. If you are still not happy with the result of this, you then have the right to escalate your appeal to be heard by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). This body is independent of the DWP and will be the final step in the appeals process as you cannot make any further appeals once the Tribunal’s decision has been made.
Which decisions can I appeal?
The appeals process deals with decisions specifically relating to….
- The type or level of award
- The amount you have been given
- The length of any award
Thus, it should be noted there are a number of decisions that you cannot appeal against including how your benefits are paid or if your claim has been suspended because the DWP consider that you’re no longer entitled to claim.
Who can appeal?
You have the right to appeal against a claim relating to yourself. However, there are some cases where someone else can launch an appeal on your behalf, these include…
- Parents or Guardians of a child who has submitted a claim
- Legally appointed representatives
- Those submitting a PIP claim for someone who is terminally ill
- Those submitting a claim for someone who has now passed away
1st Step – Contact the DWP
Before you apply for Mandatory Reconsideration you should first speak to the DWP and explain to them the reasons why you are not happy with their decision. In order to speak to the right department, you need to call the number that is printed on your decision letter. It should be noted if you do wish to proceed to the first step of mandatory reconsideration you need to do it within one month, so telephoning the DWP may be the best method to get in touch.
2nd Step – Mandatory Reconsideration
If you are still not happy, then ask the DWP for a Mandatory Reconsideration, preferably when you first speak to them about their decision. You can if you wish apply for a Mandatory Reconsideration by post but we recommend you do this by phone to speed up the process. To support your case you should send any additional documentary medical evidence, such as letters from your doctor or health practitioner (if this applies). It should be noted this needs to be evidence that was not already submitted in your original claim.
After consideration of your request, the DWP will respond by post by sending two copies of your Mandatory Reconsideration decision letter detailing their decision. It is worth noting that the DWP will look at your condition at the time you submitted your benefit claim, not the condition you are in now. In addition to this, it is also worth considering that when you apply for a Mandatory Reconsideration your entire award will be reassessed and could result in you losing any existing components or awards should the DWP feel you are no longer eligible to claim.
3rd Step – Appeal to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS)
If you are not happy with the result of your Mandatory Reconsideration your next step would be to launch an appeal to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). This organisation is independent of the DWP and is the final avenue for appeal.
You should send HMCTS a copy of your Mandatory Reconsideration decision letter along with a completed SSCS1 form. You should also read the notes on how to complete the form, which gives advice on how to fill in each section.
In addition to the above documents you may want to also include any supporting medical evidence.
What happens after I have sent off the SSCS1 form?
Firstly the Tribunals Service will check your appeal can be legally validated. Assuming it can, they will then inform the DWP of your appeal who in turn have 28 days to respond. The DWP’s response will include…
- The reasons for their decision
- Photocopies of your claim form
- Details of the legal basis for their decision
Section 6 of the SSCS1 form asks if you want to attend an oral hearing with regard to your appeal. Although is not mandatory that you attend an appeal hearing we strongly recommend you do as this will give you the best chance of overturning the original decision of the DWP. You do have the opportunity to bring a witness if you feel it would be beneficial. It may also be beneficial to make an appointment to see an adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau for further advice on how to handle a Tribunal Hearing.
What happens if you win?
Successful appeals will result in your new award amount being paid (including any backdated amounts you would have received had you not had to appeal)
What happens if you lose?
If you lose there is one final option to appeal to an Upper Tribunal, but this can only consider cases where you feel HMCTS made a mistake by law. You cannot simply appeal the HMCTS’s decision because you disagreed with the outcome.