Challenging a Pension Credit decision - mandatory reconsideration

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

You should ask the Pension Service to look at your claim again if you think a decision about your Pension Credit is wrong.

You can also ask the Pension Service 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 Pension Credit.

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

When you should ask for a mandatory reconsideration

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

  • you’ve been refused Pension Credit or SMI but have evidence you’re entitled to it

  • you’ve been refused Pension Credit or SMI but think the Pension Service has made a mistake

  • the Pension Service thinks you’ve been overpaid but you have evidence to show you were paid the right amount

If you’ve been refused Pension Credit or have been given less than you think you should have received, check you’re entitled to it first. It won’t be worth asking for a mandatory reconsideration if it’s clear you’re not entitled.

You’ll need to ask for a mandatory reconsideration within 1 month of the date of the decision. You'll find the date at the top of your decision letter. You'll need a good reason for missing the deadline - for example, because you'd spent some time in hospital.

Sometimes the reasons you’ve been refused Pension Credit aren’t clear. You can ask for a ‘written statement of reasons’ when you send your mandatory reconsideration.

Check you have evidence

If a decision on your Pension Credit is wrong because the Pension Service made a mistake about your personal circumstances, you should send them evidence to show why they’re wrong. This could be:

  • bank or private pension statements to help prove your income

  • travel tickets that show you weren't away from the country for more than 4 weeks

  • payslips that show you're working in this country - if you need to show you have a right to reside

You might think that the Pension Service have misunderstood the law. You’ll need to tell them why they’re wrong.

Write to the Pension Service

It’s usually best to use a letter to ask for a mandatory reconsideration. There are other options if you’re close to or past the 1 month deadline.

Writing a letter to the Pension Service

Send your letter to the address on the decision letter. It's a good idea to get proof of postage in case you need it later.

If you can’t find your decision letter you can find the address of your nearest Pension Centre on GOV.UK.

In your letter, explain why you disagree with their decision and give facts and examples to support your reasons. If your decision letter from the Pension Service includes the reasons for their decision, make it clear in your letter which ones you disagree with and why.

Add your phone number, email or address to your letter so the Pension Service can contact you if they have any questions. Explain if you'll have problems getting to the phone.

You can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice to write your letter. Try to get in touch straight away as you might have to wait for an appointment.

If the 1 month deadline is near or has passed

If it's a few days until the 1 month deadline or if it’s recently passed, call the Pension Service and ask for the mandatory reconsideration over the phone.

It’s a good idea to keep a record of what was discussed in case you need to refer to it later. Make a note of the date and time, the name of the person you spoke to and what you told them.

Pension Service helpline

Telephone: 0800 731 0469

Textphone: 0800 169 0133

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 731 0469

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).  

You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube.

Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 3.30pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

What happens after you appeal

The Pension Service might phone if they need more information or they want to clarify something. If you’ve told them previously that you can’t use the phone, they should write to you.

If they don’t need more information, they’ll write and tell you whether they’ve changed their decision. The letter they send you is known as a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice.

You’ll get a backdated payment if they’ve changed their original decision and told you that you’re entitled to Pension Credit or SMI. This will be backdated to the date you made the original claim.

You can appeal to an independent tribunal if they haven’t changed their decision and you still think they’re wrong. Your decision letter will include information about how to appeal. You’ll have 1 month from the date of your decision letter to do this.

Extra help while you're challenging a decision

You might be able to get help with your living costs while you're waiting for your mandatory reconsideration - for example to help pay for food or school costs.

You can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice. Try to get in touch straight away as you might have to wait for an appointment.

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Page last reviewed on 10 December 2018