If you have received a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decision which you disagree with, you can challenge this if you feel that it is incorrect, and many decisions are overturned on this basis. Common examples of decisions being overturned occur due to evidence being ignored as well as the law being incorrectly applied.
There is a Two Stage Process to Appealing a Decision.
The first stage to challenging a decision is asking for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. You have to ask the DWP to look at the decision again before proceeding to appeal. You could include any additional evidence at this point or state the grounds for your challenge. This will then be looked at by a new decision maker and you will receive a decision notification informing you of the outcome. The decision could be upheld or changed in your favour. Keep the notice handy as you will need this for the next stage of the journey.
The next stage is the appeal stage itself; you will need to apply to the Court Service through form SSCS1 which can be downloaded from the courts and tribunal service website. You will need to state the grounds of the appeal and why the law has been applied incorrectly and it could be a good idea to get advice from a benefits professional or other representative at this point. You will have the option to attend an oral hearing or for your case to be decided on the papers you submit the court. It is always advisable to select an oral hearing as this gives you the opportunity to state your case in your own words and therefore maximise the chances of being successful.
How long will I have to wait to get a hearing date?
The tribunal service is currently swamped with applications, and it may well be a significant length of time until you receive a date. You should not worry if you do not hear anything for a while as this is quite normal. Once the tribunal receive your application, they will write to you to confirm receipt.
What happens at the hearing?
Depending on the benefit that you are appealing will depend on the panel that assesses the claim. If you are appealing a PIP decision, there will be a Judge, GP and disability expert on the panel that will ask you questions on your health conditions and how these affect you on a daily basis. If appealing another social security benefit on the grounds of a medical condition, there will be a judge and GP.
Tribunals are informal settings and whilst they may be intimidating and uncomfortable, you are free to bring a friend, relative or your representative into the hearing for support. Remember that the panel is independent of the DWP and they will make an objective decision based on the evidence provided. After the hearing, the panel will convene and discuss the case and attempt to make a decision that same day and possibly whilst you are still there. You will be issued with a decision notice informing you of the decision and a copy will be sent to the DWP.
What happens after the hearing?
If you are successful, the DWP will act on the decision of the tribunal and award you any backdated payments that you were entitled to. This may take many weeks to process so do not be too concerned if you haven’t heard anything for a while. If you are not satisfied with the decision you can appeal to the upper tribunal if you believe that the law has not been applied properly and again this is something which you should get advice with. It can take many months for a new hearing and for a resolution to be reached.
This advice is provided by our Benefits Advisor, Robert Mandelstam. The information provided above is up to date for the financial year ending 5th April 2024.
We have factsheets and advice on the following topics (these are up to date for the financial year 2023/2024):
If you would like to access this support service, please complete the referral form linked below. This service is available to all those supported by the following charities – whether you are a patient, or someone who cares for someone with one of these conditions.
Once you have completed this form, we will be in touch to book you in with our Benefit Advisor (keep an eye on your junk folder just in case the email goes there!). This service is offered to our six communities without charge. If you have any questions about this service, please email email@example.com
Robert Mandelstam is a Welfare Benefit Advisor at The Maggie’s Centre at the Royal Marsden, a charity focused on providing financial, emotional and practical support to those living with cancer. He is now also working to support our six charities as part of the Better Together project. Robert has been working in the field of welfare benefit advice for over 10 years in a range of different settings, namely, the NHS, local authority/housing providers and other third sector organisations. Robert aims to break down the barriers which exist around accessing support for some of the most vulnerable people in society and is adept at providing advice from the initial stages of a claim, through to representation at benefit tribunals.