Challenging a PIP decision - appealing against the decision
Before you can appeal to a tribunal, you’ll need to ask the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to look at the decision again. This is called mandatory reconsideration.
If the DWP didn’t change their decision when you asked them to look at it again, you can appeal to an independent panel, called a tribunal.
The tribunal looks at the evidence from both sides, then makes a final decision. The tribunal is part of the court system - it’s not part of the DWP.
When you can appeal to a tribunal
You can appeal any decision made about your PIP claim. Some of the most common reasons are:
- you didn’t get PIP
- you got a lower level of PIP than you expected
- you think your PIP award should last for longer
The appeal will look at whether the decision was right at the time it was made - they won’t consider whether your condition has got worse since then. Get advice from your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales or in Scotland if this applies to you.
To be allowed to appeal to a tribunal, you’ll need:
- your letter from the DWP with the words ‘Mandatory Reconsideration Notice’ at the top - if you’ve lost it, ask them for a new one
- to send your appeal form in within one month of the date shown on the mandatory reconsideration notice
It can take a long time to get to a tribunal hearing - how long it takes will vary depending on where you live.
The process can be draining but it’s worth remembering that more than half of people who appeal their PIP decision win at a tribunal.
If you feel the decision is wrong, don’t be put off appealing.
Getting help with your appeal
You can get help with your appeal from your local Citizens Advice, or a local disability support agency.
You might be able to get someone like an adviser or a solicitor to act as your representative during the appeal, but they’re not always available. Your local Citizens Advice or law centre might help you find one, but if there are costs you can’t get legal aid to cover them if you live in England or Wales. You might be able to get help with costs in Scotland. A representative can help you with the paperwork and might speak on your behalf.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a representative - the tribunal board is most interested in hearing how your condition affects you and in your own words. Support from a friend or family member can really help, and you can do it without a professional.
Complete the appeal form
You have 1 month from the date on your mandatory reconsideration notice to appeal to HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).
You can start your appeal by either:
- completing an online appeal form on GOV.UK
- filling in form SSCS1 on GOV.UK then printing it and posting it to HMCTS
You’ll need your:
- contact details
- National Insurance number - check where to find your National Insurance number on GOV.UK.
- mandatory reconsideration notice
Make sure you complete the whole appeal form otherwise your appeal could be rejected.
Explain why you’re appealing
The most important part of the application is ‘The reasons for your appeal’- if you’re filling in form SSCS1, this is Section 5. In this box you need to give the specific reasons why you disagree with the decision.
Use your decision letter, statement of reasons and medical assessment report to note each of the statements you disagree with and why. Give facts, examples and medical evidence (if you have any) to support what you’re saying.
You might have done this already for your mandatory reconsideration letter - if so, you can use the same examples and pieces of evidence again.
You should also look at the points system the DWP uses (called descriptors) to assess PIP claims to see where you might get more points. It's important to use the right evidence. You can look at our guide to how the DWP makes a decision to help you.
You can include all this information on a separate sheet if you’d prefer, just write ‘See enclosed information’ in the box and attach any papers securely to the form.
Tribunals can look at your whole award again. So you should consider whether you risk losing your current award - for example, if you've got evidence to support a daily living component but might lose your mobility award because you can now move better. If you're not sure, you should get advice from your nearest Citizens Advice.
An example of depression affecting eating and drinking
I don’t think you’ve taken into account the effects of my severe depression when it comes to preparing food and eating. I find it hard to concentrate, so even if I push myself to start I can’t finish making a meal. I only eat meals I can heat up in the microwave. On the times I have tried to cook from scratch I have burned myself because I lose concentration and forget I have a pan on the hob.
An example of challenging a mobility decision
I don’t think you’ve properly understood my mobility problems. You say I can walk 50 metres unaided. In reality, trying to do this causes me significant pain and means I can’t walk at all for the rest of the day. I have enclosed a report from my occupational therapist which explains this in more detail.
An example of challenging the assessment
I don’t believe all the findings from my medical assessment are accurate. The assessor asked me if I could lift a cup. I did as asked but it caused shooting pains up my arm that took several hours to subside and meant I struggled to hold anything else for the rest of the day. I wasn’t given the opportunity to explain this in the assessment.
Missed the appeal deadline
If you missed the deadline you can still send in the SSCS1 form, but in Section 5 you’ll need to explain why it’s late (for example, if you were in hospital). The tribunal board will look at why your form was late and decide whether they’ll let you appeal.
Ask for a hearing in person
It’s always better to ask to attend in person (called an oral hearing). This may sound daunting but it’s an informal meeting and you can get someone to go with you for moral support. Having an oral hearing gives you more opportunities to put your case forward and a better chance of winning.
Tick the box that says ‘I want to attend the hearing’ - if you're filling in form SSCS1, this is Section 6.
Coronavirus – appealing to the tribunal
If possible, a tribunal judge will assess your case without a hearing. Instead they’ll make a decision based only on the documents. Send any evidence you have to the tribunal as soon as possible – for example medical evidence.
If the judge assesses your case based on the documents, they’ll send you a ‘provisional decision’. If you don’t agree with the provisional decision, tell the tribunal you want a hearing instead. You can find the contact details of your tribunal on GOV.UK.
If there has to be a hearing, the tribunal might suggest a phone call or video conference. You can check how to prepare if the tribunal arranges a hearing by phone or video call.
If you go to the tribunal in person, you’ll have to wear a mask or covering for your mouth and nose. If you don’t wear one, you won’t be allowed in the building. Some people don’t have to wear one – check who doesn’t have to wear a mask or face covering on GOV.UK.
Ask for what you need
You can add the dates you're not available and information about anything you need at the hearing - if you're filling in form SSCS1, this is Section 7.
It’s really important to think about anything that might stop you being able to go to the hearing and to write it down. For example:
- you can only attend a hearing during school hours or term time because of childcare responsibilities
- holidays you’ve booked
- any dates you’ve got important medical appointments
If you don’t mention these and the hearing is booked for a date you’re not available, you might not be able to change it.
The tribunal centre should be accessible, but write down details of any aids or help you’ll need, such as a sign language interpreter.
Send the form
If you fill in the online form, it's sent when you've completed it.
If you've filled in the paper form, send your documents to HM Courts and Tribunals Service, not to the DWP. The address is on the form. You should include the following:
- the completed SSCS1 form
- a copy of your Mandatory Reconsideration Notice
- any further evidence you have, although you can send this later
Post your appeal documents by recorded delivery if you can. Otherwise go to your local Post Office to post them and ask for proof of postage. This can help you later if the tribunal service says you didn’t meet the deadline or if the letter gets lost in the post.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service will check the form and then ask the DWP for their response within another 28 days.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service will send you:
- a copy of the DWP’s response
- information about what happens next
- details of when and where the hearing will be (if you’ve asked for an oral hearing, rather than a paper one)
Track your appeal
If you appeal a PIP decision online, you’ll be asked if you want to join the ‘track your appeal’ service. This will send you regular email updates and reminders about your appeal. You’ll also get a login, so you can check the progress of your appeal at any time.
If you applied by post you can contact the HM Courts and Tribunal Service and ask them to send you updates and reminders by text message.
HM Courts and Tribunal Service
Telephone: 0300 123 1142
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm
Your call is likely to be free of charge if you have a phone deal that includes free calls to landlines - find out more about calling 030 numbers.
If you don’t want to call or email, you can talk about your appeal online with a trained helper on HM Courts and Tribunals Service website.
It’s a good idea to check you’re getting all the other benefits you’re entitled to - if you're 18 or over, you can use the Turn2us benefits calculator to find out.