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 Information and advice for 
 Tameside residents 
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Benefit appeals

Challenging Benefits Decisions

This information relates to challenging Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits decisions made after 28th October 2013, and Her Majesty Revenue and Customs (HMRC) benefits decisions made after 6th April 2014.

If you wish to challenge benefits decisions made before these dates, please get in touch with the Tameside MBC Welfare Rights Service as soon as possible. For information on challenging Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support decisions, click here.

You may want to challenge a decision to refuse you a benefit, to award you a lower rate of a disability benefit, or to ‘sanction’ you for a length of time. In all of these scenarios, the basic process you have to follow is the same, and is outlined below.

Contact the Welfare Rights Service before challenging a decision to put you in a particular Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) ‘group’ or to pay you a particular rate of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Attendance Allowance (AA), or Disability Living Allowance (DLA). When you challenge a decision like this, there is a risk that you may end up with less benefit or even nothing at all.

Tips for challenging decisions

Whenever you challenge a decision, you need to say why you disagree with it.

It helps if you know what the rules for your particular benefit are. A list of useful websites can be found here.

Remember to provide any evidence that backs up your case (e.g. copies of medical letters, printouts of emails, or the dates and times of any telephone calls).

Further information on challenging particular types of benefits decisions can be found in these factsheets produced by the Tameside MBC Welfare Rights Service.

Process for challenging decisions

1. ‘Mandatory reconsideration’

Ask the DWP or HMRC to look at their decision again (a ‘mandatory reconsideration’). You need to wait until you have a letter from the DWP or HMRC confirming their decision (a ‘decision letter’) before you can do this.

There are deadlines for requesting a ‘mandatory reconsideration’:

  • For DWP benefit decisions, you have 1 month from the date of the ‘decision letter’
  • For HMRC benefit decisions, you have 30 days from the date of the ‘decision letter’

If you miss these deadlines, you risk losing your automatic right to appeal the decision, so contact the Tameside MBC Welfare Rights Service for advice as to what you can do. There is an absolute time limit of 13 months from the date of the decision after which you lose your right to challenge the decision.

It is usually best to request a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ in writing: keep a photocopy of the letter you send, along with photocopies of any evidence you send with it, and get proof of postage. You can also request a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ by phone.

1. Appeal

Once the DWP or HMRC have looked at their decision again, you should receive two copies of a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice letter’.

If the decision remains unchanged, you can then appeal directly to an independent tribunal, which has the power to overturn the decision.

  • To appeal HMRC benefits decisions, you need to use form SCSS5
  • To appeal DWP benefits decisions, you need to use form SCSS1

It is best to seek advice from the Tameside MBC Welfare Rights Service before completing form SCSS5 or SCSS1.

Post your completed form, along with a copy of the ‘mandatory reconsideration notice letter’, to HM Courts & Tribunals Service (the address should be on the form). This needs to be received by HM Courts & Tribunals Service within 30 days of the date on the ‘mandatory reconsideration notice letter’. If you have missed the deadline, contact the Welfare Rights Service for advice.

Your appeal is more likely to be successful if you attend a face-to-face tribunal hearing. The Welfare Rights Service can help you prepare for your hearing, and may be able to represent you at your hearing.

Tameside MBC Factsheets

Form to request a mandatory reconsideration

Employment And Support Allowance

JSA Sanctions

Tax Credit Overpayments

Income Support Sanctions

Universal Credit Sanctions Factsheet

ESA Sanctions Factsheet

To search for local advice services, please click here.
A list of useful websites can be found here.

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