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Appealing against an SSA benefit decision made before 23 May 2016

If you want to challenge a decision about a benefit claim from the Social Security Agency (SSA) made before 23 May 2016 you can appeal to an independent tribunal. You do not have to ask for the decision to be reconsidered first.

This page explains how to appeal the decision.

When can you appeal against a decision?

Before you appeal to a tribunal you can ask for the decision to be looked at again. This is called a reconsideration. If the decision was made before 23 May 2016 you do not have to ask for a reconsideration before you appeal a SSA decision. If you're not happy with the outcome of the reconsideration, you can appeal to the Appeals Service Northern Ireland (TAS). Your appeal will be heard by an independent tribunal.

Appealing against an SSA benefit decision made on or after 23 May 2016

Time limits for appealing

You must appeal within one month of the date on the letter or email telling you the outcome of the reconsideration. It is important to appeal in time otherwise you might lose the chance to challenge the decision.

If you miss the deadline, TAS can still accept your appeal up to 13 months after the decision was sent if you can give good reasons why it’s late. The Adjudicator will decide if the appeal can be accepted.

More about late appeals

Decisions you can't appeal against

There are some decisions that you can’t appeal against. The letter telling you about the decision must say if you can appeal and how to do this.

You usually can't appeal against decisions such as when and how to pay your benefit. You also won't be able to appeal if the SSA has suspended your claim because they think you're not entitled to it.

If the letter says you don’t have the right to appeal, and you think the SSA has made a mistake, you can apply to TAS for a ruling on whether you have a legal right to appeal. Before you do this, you should get advice from a specialist adviser.

Who can appeal?

You can appeal against a decision made on your own claim. If you are not the benefit claimant you can appeal if you:

  • are the parent or guardian of a child who has made a claim
  • have been appointed by the SSA to act for a person unable to deal with their claim, for example because of poor mental or physical health
  • been given permission by SSA to act for a claimant who has now died
  • If you are not the benefit claimant but it has been decided that a short-term or budgeting advance or hardship payment should be recovered from you.

Getting help to prepare your appeal

If you think you will need help to prepare your case you can ask someone else to help you. This person is called your representative. The person you choose should be able to:

  • advise you on the evidence you need to prepare to help you with your case
  • help you to get this evidence
  • be prepared to talk to the SSA to see if it’s possible to change the decision in your favour without going to a tribunal
  • research the law
  • prepare a written statement for the tribunal hearing
  • advise you on other benefits or Legal Help you may be entitled to
  • help you with anything you need to do after the tribunal hearing.

You should only ask a friend or relative to act as your representative if you think they will be able to carry out these tasks for you. It may be better to get help from a trained representative through your local Citizens Advice Bureau, another advice agency or your trade union.

How to appeal

To appeal, you need to fill in form GL24 if you think the decision is wrong. If you can’t download the form, you can get a paper copy from Social Security/Jobs and Benefits offices.

If you can’t get a form in time to meet your one-month deadline to appeal, you can send a letter instead. However, if you have a good reason for why you might miss the deadline, it’s best to get in touch with TAS to see if you can extend the time limit.

If you live overseas

If you want to make an appeal and you live outside the UK, you can download form GL24.

If you want to keep your address confidential

If you are appealing against a joint claim or a claim for a child that you made with a former partner or spouse and you are no longer living with them, there may be a reason why you don't want them to know where you are now living now. If this is the case, you can ask TAS to keep your address confidential to protect your anonymity. If you need to do this, tell TAS when you send in your appeal.

Where to send the form

When you’ve completed your form take or send it to the office that sent you the decision. Write ‘Appeal’ on the front of the envelope.

What happens after you appeal

When you send back your form, TAS will check that your appeal is legally valid. If your appeal is accepted, the SSA will be told you have appealed and will prepare their response. The response will:

  • give reasons for the decision
  • include a copy of your claim form and any other letters and forms you have filled in
  • say what law they have used to make the decision.

The SSA should respond to TAS within 28 calendar days.

TAS will also write to tell you what will happen next.

If you appealed by writing a letter instead of filling in form GL24, TAS may send you an enquiry form asking you for more information about your needs for the appeal hearing. This includes asking you:

  • if you want to go to the appeal hearing
  • if you want to bring witnesses
  • if you will need an interpreter
  • any dates you can’t attend a hearing.

Tribunal decisions

If you've already gone to a tribunal, a decision maker can change the decision by supersession if the tribunal were ignorant or mistaken about a material fact. A tribunal decision can also be changed if it is now wrong because of a Commissioners’ decision in another case.

More about changing a benefit decision by supersession

Next steps

Other useful information

You can see a video of what to expect when you attend an appeal tribunal on the government website at www.nidirect.gov.uk

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