Challenging a Benefit Decision (Mandatory Reconsideration) | ͵͵


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How to challenge a benefits decision through mandatory reconsideration

If you disagree with a decision that's been made about your benefits, you can challenge it. This might sound daunting, but there's support available to help you through the process.

Who makes the decision about my benefits claim?

Who makes the decision about your benefits claim depends on which benefit you're applying for.

Most decisions about benefits for older people are made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). But decisions about Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction are made by local councils.

After you make a benefit claim and any necessary assessments are complete, you should receive a letter telling you the outcome and outlining how you can appeal. This is known as a 'decision notice'. To challenge a decision, you can ask for 'mandatory reconsideration'.

What is mandatory reconsideration?

For most DWP decisions, they must be given the opportunity to reconsider their decision before you can appeal it. This is known as 'mandatory reconsideration'.

A mandatory reconsideration isn't necessary to challenge a benefits decision for local authority decision-makers, like your local council.

You can ask for a 'written statement of reasons' which explains why the original decision was made. You can use this to support your request for mandatory reconsideration.

It's important to remember that a revised decision will replace the original one, and it won't always mean you're better off.

Your benefit could be:

  • continued at the same amount
  • increased
  • reduced
  • stopped altogether.

How do I request mandatory reconsideration?

You can ask the decision-maker for mandatory reconsideration over the phone, but you should confirm your request in writing. The address you need to write to should be on the original decision letter.

In your letter, you should:

  • explain why you think the decision they've made is wrong
  • send any evidence or documents to support your argument.

Is there a time limit for me to request mandatory reconsideration?

There's a one-month time limit on challenging a benefits decision – so it's important to ask for mandatory reconsideration as soon as you can.

The deadline should be confirmed in your decision letter.

If you've asked for a written statement of reasons for the decision, the one-month time limit can be extended by 14 days.

If you have a good reason for applying late for mandatory reconsideration, the decision-maker might still accept your request up to 13 months after the date you originally received the decision.

This could be because there were difficult circumstances – such as illness or a bereavement.

What happens if I miss the one-month deadline?

If you miss the one-month deadline and they refuse to accept a late application within the 13 months, they should send you details of your appeal rights. You can then make an appeal against the original decision with the independent tribunal.

How long does mandatory reconsideration take?

Although there's a one-month time limit for you to request mandatory reconsideration, there's no time limit for how long it can take the DWP or your local council to get back to you with their decision. 

If you feel that it's taking too long, there are a couple of options available to you:

  • You can get in touch with the decision-maker (such as  or ) to ask them the reason for the delay.
  • You can .

After you've requested mandatory reconsideration, the DWP might call you to explain their decision. It's important to be clear that you'd still like your mandatory reconsideration to go ahead and you'd still like a written decision.

This is because they might assume you agree with the reasons for their negative decision and stop the mandatory reconsideration from going ahead.

When can I make an appeal against a benefits decision?

For most DWP decisions, you can only appeal their benefits decision if it's already been reconsidered by the DWP. 

Once the decision-maker has reconsidered, they'll send you a letter. This is known as a mandatory reconsideration notice. It should contain information about your right to appeal.

It's important to remember that appealing can result in your benefit being reduced or stopped altogether, as well as being increased.

You usually have one month to appeal from the date the mandatory reconsideration notice was sent to you.

You might be able to make a late appeal if there's a good reason for the delay. In your application, you should explain why your appeal is late.

For local council decisions, you can appeal their benefits decision without this reconsideration stage. 

How do I submit an appeal against a benefits decision?

You can appeal to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS). Your appeal will be heard by an independent tribunal called the First-tier Tribunal.

You need to request an appeal in writing. You can write a letter, but it's generally best to use an official appeal form to make sure you've provided all the necessary information.

You can also appeal a benefit decision online – you just need your National Insurance number, the details of the representative helping with your appeal (if you're using one) and your mandatory reconsideration notice. 

Here are some things to remember:

  • You need to send a copy of your mandatory reconsideration notice to HMCTS – or you can enter the date on your mandatory reconsideration notice on the online appeal form.
  • In your letter or form, you need to explain why you think the benefit decision is wrong and include any further evidence to support your argument.

After they get your request, HMCTS will contact you to tell you what will happen next.

If my benefits claim is unsuccessful, can I make another claim?

If your benefits claim gets turned down, you can still apply again in the future. For example, if your needs change, then you may meet eligibility criteria that you didn't before. 

So even if your claim gets turned down this time, it's still possible for you to be awarded benefits in the future.

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Last updated: Apr 10 2024

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