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What to do if you disagree with a benefits decision

What to do if you disagree with a benefits decision

How to challenge and appeal a benefits decision

After you apply for benefits, you’ll get a decision from the benefits agency. You may disagree with this decision if you were refused the claim completely, or the awarded benefit does not meet your needs.

There are 2 main steps to take when you disagree with a decision.

  1. Get the benefits agency to look at the decision again (mandatory reconsideration).
  2. Appeal to an independent tribunal about a benefits decision (usually after mandatory reconsideration).

Before taking these steps, we recommend getting someone to help you through this process.

Get the decision looked at again

If you disagree with a benefits decision, you can challenge the decision. This is called mandatory reconsideration.

  1. Use the contact details on your decision letter to tell them you disagree with the decision.
  2. Write a formal request to have the decision looked at again.
  3. Send extra evidence to support your claim (for example, your latest hearing test result).
  4. You wait while a decision-maker looks at the further evidence provided.
  5. You get a letter from the decision-maker either changing the decision or explaining why it remains the same (this is a mandatory reconsideration letter).
  6. If you still disagree with the decision, you can make an appeal to an independent tribunal.

You will need the mandatory reconsideration letter if you want to appeal against the decision.

Make sure your request is in writing and you keep a copy of it.

Appeal against the decision

Before you appeal, you usually need to ask for mandatory reconsideration. If this is not needed, your decision letter will say that you can appeal straight away.

You have up to 1 month after the date of your decision letter or mandatory reconsideration to appeal.

The appeal process

This step-by-step guide applies if you live in England, Wales and Scotland. There’s a different process if you live in Northern Ireland.

Appeals are decided by the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal. They are impartial and independent of the benefits agency.

  1. Download the appeal form (
  2. Fill out the form and state clearly why you disagree with the decision.
  3. Choose if you want a hearing to decide your case.
  4. Send the form to the listed address and include a copy of your mandatory reconsideration letter.
  5. You get a letter from and tribunal service to say they’ve got your appeal form.
  6. An independent tribunal will make a decision about the benefit claim.
  7. You’ll get a decision notice on the day the tribunal meets or very soon afterwards.

Having a hearing and attending can greatly improve your chances of a successful appeal.

Get support challenging a benefits decision

Appealing a benefits decision can be confusing and complicated. There are a number of services that can help you get the support you need.

Benefits advice can vary depending on where you live. If you get support from Citizens Advice, make sure you’re using the service local to where you live.

Contact us

If you are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus and need free confidential and impartial information and support, contact RNID.

We’re open 8:30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Page last updated: 21 January 2022

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