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Challenging a JSA decision - mandatory reconsideration

This advice applies to England

You should ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to look at your claim again if you think a decision about your Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is wrong. 

You can also ask them to change a decision about support for mortgage interest (SMI). SMI is a loan to help pay the interest on your mortgage if you get JSA.

Asking the DWP to change the decision is called a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. It’s free to do and you don’t need a solicitor or any other legal help.

When to ask for a mandatory reconsideration

You’re likely to get the decision changed in your favour if, for example:

  • you’ve been refused JSA or SMI but have evidence you’re entitled to it
  • your JSA has stopped because you didn’t keep to your jobseeker's agreement, but you had a good reason
  • the DWP thinks you’ve been overpaid but you have evidence to show you were paid the right amount

If you’ve been refused JSA, you should check you’re eligible for JSA before you ask for a mandatory reconsideration. If it’s clear you’re not eligible, it won’t be worth asking for a mandatory reconsideration.

The DWP won’t take into account things like if your JSA payment doesn’t give you enough to live on or you don’t want to go to the Jobcentre. They’ll only change the decision if they got something wrong or you had a good reason for not keeping to your jobseeker's agreement.

If you’ve been sanctioned

You’ll still need to ask for a mandatory reconsideration, but first you should check if you can challenge the sanction and the evidence you’ll need.

Check you have evidence

The DWP will usually only change a decision if you have evidence to prove why it was wrong.

Check if you have any evidence to send with your mandatory reconsideration. What you’ll need will depend on why you’re challenging the decision.

If you reported a change in circumstances

You might have been paid the wrong amount of JSA if the DWP missed a change you reported.

If you wrote to the DWP to report the change, send copies of the letter and proof of postage, if you have it.

If you called the DWP to report the change, fill in this form on GOV.UK to ask for an audio or written copy of the call. This is called a ‘subject access request’.

Send the completed form to your nearest Jobcentre Plus. Write ‘For the attention of the DWP Data Protection Officer’ on the envelope.

It can take 6 to 8 weeks for a subject access request to come through, so don’t wait for it. Send the letter asking for the mandatory reconsideration within the 1-month deadline. Say in the letter that you’ve made a subject access request and will send the evidence to the DWP when you have it.

Asking for a mandatory reconsideration

If you're asking for a mandatory reconsideration because you’ve been sanctioned, you can do this at any time. Otherwise, you have 1 month from the date of the decision to ask for one. You’ll find the date at the top of the letter that told you the decision. 

If you've missed the 1 month deadline it's still worth sending your mandatory reconsideration. You'll need to do this within 13 months of the date on your decision letter.

If you haven’t been able to find any evidence, don’t delay sending your mandatory reconsideration. Send any evidence you find later by Royal Mail Signed For.

If the DWP didn’t give you a reason for the decision

The letter that told you the decision should include the reasons why - called a ‘written statement of reasons’. If it doesn’t, you should call the DWP and ask for one. 

You’ll then have 1 month and 14 days from the date at the top of the decision letter to ask for a mandatory reconsideration. If you don’t get the written statement of reasons within 1 month of the decision letter, you’ll have 14 days from the date the written statement of reasons was sent.

Telephone: 0800 169 0310
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Textphone: 0800 169 0314

Calls to this number are free.

If you’re not sure if your decision letter includes a statement of reasons, you should send your mandatory reconsideration within the 1-month deadline. This is because the DWP might argue that they included reasons in the decision letter, so won’t extend the deadline. 

If you’ve missed the 1 month deadline

You can still ask for a mandatory reconsideration, as long as it’s within 13 months of the date on your decision letter.

You’ll need to give a good reason for why you couldn’t ask within 1 month. For example, because you’d spent some time in hospital. The longer it is since the 1 month deadline, the stronger your reason will need to be. 

Write to the DWP and explain why you missed the 1 month deadline. Send this letter to the address on your decision letter.

The DWP can refuse your application if it's late, but as long as you applied within 13 months you can still appeal the decision at a tribunal.

If you got the decision letter more than 13 months ago

The DWP might change the decision if they made a mistake – known as an ‘official error’. This includes if the DWP:

  • made a mistake when calculating your payments - for example, if they didn’t include a JSA premium you’re entitled to
  • overlooked a piece of evidence you sent them - for example, that showed you had less than £16,000 in savings

You’ll need to write to the DWP to explain why you think they made an official error. Write ‘Request for official error revision’ at the top of your letter and include:

Send it to the address on the decision letter.

To ask for a mandatory reconsideration, you can use the CRMR1 mandatory reconsideration request form on GOV.UK or send a letter to the DWP.

Explain why you disagree with the DWP's reasons in your form or letter. Give facts and examples to support what you’re saying. For example, if the DWP think you’ve been working more than 16 hours a week, send timesheets to show you work less. Or if they think you earn too much to get JSA, send payslips to show them how much you earn.

If you've been sanctioned for not doing something, explain:

  • why you didn’t do it
  • what you did to tell the Jobcentre at the time - and if you didn’t, why not
  • what you did to sort out the problem - and if you didn’t do anything, why not
  • the impact the problem had on you - for example, if it caused you anxiety

Whatever the reason for your sanction, tell the DWP if you’ve recently experienced bullying, harassment, abuse or homelessness. This could be at home, in the workplace or elsewhere. The DWP will consider the impact it had on you and it might help your case.

Add your contact details so that the DWP can call you if they have any questions. Include if you’ll have any problems getting to the phone, for example because it’s difficult for you to move around.

You can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice to fill in the form or write a letter. Tell them the date of the DWP decision letter and the 1 month deadline and they’ll try to give you an appointment in time.

Send your form or letter to the address on your JSA decision letter. It’s a good idea to send it and copies of any evidence by Royal Mail Signed For and keep the receipt. You might need to prove when you posted it and when it arrived.

If it’s just a few days until the 1 month deadline, you should call the DWP. Make a note of the date and time you call and the name of the person you spoke to - you might need to refer to it later in your appeal. 

Call the number on your decision letter or you can use these details:


Telephone: 0800 169 0310
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Textphone: 0800 169 0314

Calls to this number are free.

What happens next

The DWP will contact you if they need more information to support your challenge. 

You’ll be sent a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’ when the DWP have looked at your claim and made a new decision. This letter will explain what they’ve decided and why.

It usually takes about 14 working days for the mandatory reconsideration to arrive. If after 1 month it hasn’t arrived, you can call the DWP to check it’s being looked at. You can make a complaint if it’s taking months to come through.

While you’re waiting for the mandatory reconsideration

You can get help while waiting for a decision - for example to help pay for food or bigger items like a bed or cooker. Check what help you could get in your area.

If you’ve been sanctioned, you might be able to get some money to pay for essentials like heating. This is called a ‘hardship payment’. Check if you can get a hardship payment.

If you're worried you might be sanctioned again because you're struggling to keep to your jobseeker's agreement, you can ask to change it

Claiming Universal Credit

You can choose to claim Universal Credit instead of JSA. Claiming Universal Credit might leave you worse off and you won't be able to go back onto JSA, even if your mandatory reconsideration or appeal is successful. An adviser can calculate which benefit would leave you better off - contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.

If the DWP decide to give you more JSA or SMI your payments will be backdated to the date they were stopped or reduced.

Appealing to an independent tribunal

If the DWP won’t change their decision you should take your challenge to a tribunal. It’s free to do and because the tribunal is independent they might disagree with the DWP’s decision.

The mandatory reconsideration notice will include information on how to appeal.

Appeal a JSA or SMI decision at an independent tribunal

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