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Last updated:
30/10/2017

How can I appeal a decision about my benefits?

The appeals process

  1. Overview
  2. The appeals process
  3. Preparing your appeal
  4. Setting out your argument in writing
  5. Making arrangements for the tribunal
  6. Going to the hearing
  7. Tips for representing yourself
  8. Can I appeal against my council tax support or housing benefit decision?
  9. Sample letters for requesting evidence
  10. Next steps

To appeal a decision of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) you must first ask for a mandatory reconsideration’ and receive a ‘mandatory reconsideration  notice’ before you can appeal  This process applies to benefits such as:

Once you have your form, you have to appeal straight to the tribunal service. This is called ‘direct lodgement’. The DWP will not send your appeal to the tribunal. 

To make a direct lodgement you have to send the tribunal:

  • One copy of your Mandatory Reconsideration Notice, and
  • A letter or appeal form requesting an appeal

For most benefit appeals the form is a SSCS1 but for Tax Credits and Child Benefit it is an SSCS5

We recommend that you send the form rather than a letter. This will make sure you send the tribunal service the information it needs for the appeal.

We recommend that you send the form rather than a letter. This will make sure you send the tribunal service the information it needs for the appeal.

The form will ask if you want to have a paper or oral hearing. A paper hearing means that the tribunal will look at your case without you being there. An oral hearing means you have to go to a tribunal. You are more likely to be successful if you have an oral hearing. You should fill in the form and send it to:

Address: HMCTS, SSCS Appeals Centre, P.O Box 1203, Bradford BD1 9WP

The tribunal will tell the DWP you are appealing. The DWP should respond within 28 days and should send you a copy of their paperwork.  

You might receive a lot of paperwork from the DWP. Do not feel that you need to go through it all at once. Read through it at your own pace. You may have your tribunal hearing in a few weeks or months - it can be a long wait.

Also, if the DWP do not change their decision at the end of the mandatory reconsideration then you can appeal to the tribunal. 

What are the time limits for filing an appeal?

You have 1 month to submit your appeal from the date on the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice.

If you miss the 1-month time limit because of special circumstances, you can ask the tribunal to accept your appeal late. For example, if you or your partner were seriously ill at the time, you may ask the tribunal to accept a late appeal. You must try to ask for this within 13 months of the original decision.

Who can help me with my appeal hearing?

You can get help with your appeal from a specialist welfare rights adviser at your local Law Centre, Citizens Advice Bureau, an independent advice agency or your local authority’s welfare rights service, if they have one.

You can usually find details of local services in the telephone book, Yellow Pages or on the Internet.

What if I have to represent myself?

If you can’t find a local organisation to help with an appeal, you will have to represent yourself at the hearing. Appealing and representing yourself may sound overwhelming but it’s actually quite common practice.   

The tribunal system is set up so that people can represent themselves, and people do this every day.

The tribunal system is set up so that people can represent themselves, and people do this every day. It’s best just to be prepared and understand the process by reading through this information to help your chances of success.

If you feel you would still like some support, you can also ask a friend or family member to help you prepare.

Getting supporting evidence

Always try to get evidence for your appeal. You can send evidence with your appeal form, but don’t worry if you can’t get the evidence in time. You can send it after you've sent the form. You can give evidence to the tribunal on the day of the hearing, but it is best to send it before. If you have a lot of evidence on the day the tribunal panel will need time to read it, and this could delay the hearing.

The tribunal will not contact your GP, psychiatrist or any other medical professional to ask for evidence. You need to speak to them yourself and ask them for evidence. You can ask them for a letter or report that backs up your claim. Be aware that some medical professionals will charge you for a letter or report. If you can’t afford this, or it would be difficult to pay then make this clear to the medical professional.

There are some sample letters you can use for submitting evidence for your appeal at the end of this section.

If a carer or relative has information about your condition they can also send this to the tribunal before the hearing.

Remember to make copies of the medical evidence and bring it with you to the tribunal, just in case anything is missing on the day.

 

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Within this subject

  1. Overview
  2. The appeals process
  3. Preparing your appeal
  4. Setting out your argument in writing
  5. Making arrangements for the tribunal
  6. Going to the hearing
  7. Tips for representing yourself
  8. Can I appeal against my council tax support or housing benefit decision?
  9. Sample letters for requesting evidence
  10. Next steps
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