How to prepare for a PIP appeal tribunal
We explain how to prepare for your PIP appeal tribunal, and give you tips, so you have the best chance of winning your PIP appeal.
If you requested an appeal hearing in person, you would have a minimum of 14 days’ notice before your tribunal giving you enough time to prepare for your PIP appeal tribunal adequately.
Before your PIP appeal tribunal
There are several things you should do before your PIP appeal tribunal. We recommend you do the following actions as soon as you receive your PIP appeal date:
- Inform the tribunal service immediately with valid reason if you can’t make the date
- Read the information sent to you by the tribunal service
- Send any new medical evidence
- Check the venue is suitable for your needs
- Check with the tribunal service what expenses you can claim and how to claim them
- Ask a friend or family member to come with you for emotional support.
What to take with you to a PIP appeal tribunal?
Here is a list of things you should take with you to your PIP appeal tribunal:
- The appeal papers sent to you
- Any new evidence (you will need to hand this to reception when you arrive)
- Notes you have made about what you want to say
- Receipts for any expenses you want to claim back.
On the day of your PIP appeal tribunal
Here are a few on the day PIP appeal tribunal tips:
- Arrive at your PIP appeal tribunal in plenty of time
- Don't dress up or try to impress the panel with your appearance. It is essential that the panel see you as you are on a typical day.
What to expect when you arrive at your PIP appeal tribunal
Your letter from the tribunal will say when and where your hearing is. You should tell reception when you arrive.
You may have to wait in a separate room. The judges involved in the tribunal will try and make sure that hearings run on time, but there can be delays. You could bring something to eat and drink as there may not be anywhere to buy refreshments.
A tribunal clerk will ask you if you have any last-minute evidence that you want to give to the judges. If you’re feeling confused or have any questions about the tribunal procedures, you can ask the clerk.
What happens at a PIP appeal tribunal?
The PIP appeal tribunal is much more informal than going to court - you won’t be in a courtroom, and there won’t be any witnesses or jury. The tribunal panel will not be wearing robes or wigs and will consist of:
- A judge,
- A doctor, and
- Someone called a ‘disability member’. They could be a social worker, nurse or occupational therapist or anyone else who understands disabilities.
If your appeal is complicated, there might be someone from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) at the tribunal. They are sometimes called PIP Presenting Officers (PO). They can ask you questions about your condition, illness or situation. Their job is to explain the DWP’s reasons for their original decision. They must be polite to you and should not harass you.
The PO might ask why you didn’t mention a problem on your claim form or point out that something you say in the hearing is not in the assessment report. Stay calm. Explain any problems you had when completing forms. If you are certain you told the Healthcare Professional something that isn’t in the report, say so.
POs can seem dismissive and try to justify the original DWP decision before they’ve listened to all the evidence.
A PO may also have looked through the evidence beforehand and is ready to concede before you go into the appeal.
How long will the hearing last?
The PIP tribunal hearing will last around 30 to 40 minutes. Everyone will speak in simple English and should not talk about the law or use jargon unless they must. The tribunal will be based on the facts of your claim.
The following is an example running order for a PIP appeal tribunal:
- The judge will introduce the tribunal and explain what it’s for.
- They will ask you questions about your reasons for appealing and ask you to explain your everyday activities.
- They will be taking notes on what you say.
- If a DWP representative is there, the panel will also ask them questions.
- Once everyone has spoken, you will be asked if there’s anything more you’d like to say – you should use this time to clarify anything or mention something which hasn’t been said previously.
- You will be asked to leave the room while the panel make their decision.
- You will be called back into the room and informed of the panel’s decision, although in more complicated cases you may have to wait three to five days to receive your decision by letter in the post.
Tips for answering PIP appeal tribunal questions
Representing yourself at PIP appeal tribunal can appear daunting. However, it’s common practice. Here are several tips for you to remember when answering questions at a PIP appeal tribunal:
- Take your time. There is no need to rush through your answers.
- Ask the judge or doctor to repeat any questions you don’t understand.
- When giving your answers, be open and honest. It can be hard to talk about your mental health and the help that you need.
- Bring notes and examples, so you remember what you want to say. The panel will probably ask you to describe your typical day. It can be hard to describe a ‘typical’ day if your mood or health differ from day to day.
- Don't use specific medical or PIP related language. Just speak as you normally would.
- Correct anything that isn’t right, e.g. if the judge says, ‘you can plan a journey on your own’, make it clear if they’re wrong, and explain the help you need to do that.
- If you haven't said everything you want to say because they haven't been asked the right question - tell them anyway.
- Don't make light of your mental illness. Be as open about your condition as you can be and explain the help you need.
PIP appeal tribunal tips
Here are a few general PIP appeal tribunal tips to help you prepare:
- The panel may be running late – use this time to go over your notes.
- If you start to get emotional at your PIP appeal, you can ask for a break so you can compose yourself.
- Remember that you will be observed from the moment you arrive for your PIP tribunal.
- If you have asked someone who helps you a lot – such as a carer - to give evidence, they may be asked to wait outside until they are needed.
PIP Mental Health Guide
Challenging a PIP decision
- Introduction to PIP
- Help with your PIP claim
- Challenging a PIP decision
- PIP resources