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Challenging benefits decisions

Revisions

If your claim for a benefit is turned down or you disagree with a decision about your benefit award, you can ask for that decision to be looked at again. This called a revision or reconsideration.

You should receive confirmation of most decisions in writing and the date on the letter is the date of the decision. You normally have one month from the date the decision is made to ask for a revision. You can ask for a revision over the phone, in person or in writing.
It is helpful to ask for the reasons why a decision was made and to ask for copies of any evidence used when making the decision. The one month limit can be extended by two weeks if you have asked for a statement of reasons explaining why the decision was made.
A Decision Maker will look at the benefit and the decision and decide whether they can change it. This may take up to 3 months, depending on the benefit and the decision.

It is important to send further evidence to support your revision. If there is no new evidence the Decision Maker is less likely to change the decision. Where possible you should explain why you think the decision is wrong. You should also send further medical evidence if your claim is for a Disability or Sickness benefit.


Appealing a decision

If the decision maker is unable to change the decision you have one month from their notification to request an appeal.

The appeal request must be in writing. You can write a letter but it is easier to use a specific appeal form.

  • For benefits administered by the DWP use the GL24 form (the last four pages of the 'If you think our decision is wrong' leaflet).

  • For benefits administered by HM Revenue and Customs use the WTC/AP form (called the 'Appeals against Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit decisions' leaflet).

  • For Housing and Council Tax Benefit you must appeal to your local district/borough council.


You must explain why you think the decision made is wrong. It is fine to give a summary of why you wish to appeal and then send more detailed information later on, but you can send detailed information with the appeal form if you wish.

Tribunals

If you don't agree with the response to your appeal, or you don't think all the points in your appeal have been covered, your case can go to an independent tribunal.

At present it is taking a long time for tribunal dates to be allocated. Unless your appeal is urgent, for example because you will suffer hardship if a decision is not made as soon as possible, it is likely to take a year or possibly longer for your appeal to be heard.

Download our Social security and tax credit tribunals factsheet for general information about appeals. 

Use the following links for appeals advice on specific benefits:

Our benefits advice sessions directory lists local organisations that can help you with any appeal.


Example appeal information

"I wish to appeal against your decision of 06/05/2010 that I am not entitled to Disability Living Allowance. My grounds for appealing are that I have Multiple Sclerosis and need help with cooking for myself, getting dressed and getting in and out of the bath. I have difficulty walking and am in a lot of pain most of the time."

Example appeal information

"I wish to appeal against your decision that I have only scored 6 points in my Employment and Support Allowance Work Capability Assessment and that I am not entitled to ESA. I have Multiple Sclerosis and believe that I meet the criteria for descriptors 1Ci because I cannot walk more than 100 metres without pain, 3C because I cannot raise my arms above my head and 9B because my MS has affected my control of my bladder. I should score 21 points and should be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance."

Upper or Second Tier Tribunals

If your tribunal is not successful or you disagree with the decision made, it is possible to challenge the decision in certain circumstances. This is called appealing to the Upper (Second Tier) Tribunal.

You cannot challenge the decision simply because you disagree with it, there has to have been an Error of Law. This means that the tribunal did not follow the correct procedures or did not apply the law or regulations correctly. It might be that they did not give you the opportunity to say everything you wanted to or that the tribunal cannot legally justify their decision.

There are strict time limits for appealing to an Upper (Second Tier) Tribunal and it is vital that you seek support with the process. It is important that you contact your local advice agency straight away for help.

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