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If you think your DfC benefit decision is wrong and you're too late to appeal

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

If you're getting a benefit paid by the Department for Communities (DfC) it's possible that the DfC may have got the decision wrong.

This page tells you more about how a decision can be changed when an official error has been made and you're too late to appeal.

How do you know if your benefit decision is wrong?

It can be difficult to know if your benefit decision is wrong. It may only come to light if the DfC discovers that an official error has been made and gets in touch to tell you.

Or you may ask why you were refused benefit or were paid less than you thought you should have got and realise that the DfC made an official error.

Sometimes you may only realise an official error has been made when it's too late to ask for a reconsideration of the decision or to appeal.

What is an official error?

An official error is an error made by a DfC employee or by someone employed to provide a service to DfC. The error could be that the person:

  • got the law wrong, or
  • failed to take into account information or evidence that may have shown you were entitled to the benefit or that you should have been awarded more money, or
  • made a mistake about a fact.

Examples of when a benefit decision is wrong

Example 1

If the decision maker awarded you income-related JSA, but did not know that you had savings over £16,000, the decision can be changed. The new revised decision will mean that you have been overpaid JSA and you will usually be asked to pay this back.

Example 2

The decision maker awarded you DLA for the care component but not mobility. You wrote on the claim form that you could only walk one metre before having to stop and use a wheelchair.

Your GP wrote a letter to confirm that you were not able to walk. You find out that the decision maker misread your claim form and did not read the GP letter. You think the decision maker made an official error when they misread the form and overlooked the GP letter so you ask for the decision to be changed by revision. If you're successful you will be paid the mobility component of DLA from the date you claimed.

What you can do if you find out there's been an official error

If the decision on your claim is wrong because of an official error you can ask for the decision to be changed by revision. It does not matter when the decision was made, it can be changed at any time. This is known as an any time revision.

If the decision maker agrees that there was an official error a revision decision will be made which changes the decision from the date it was made.

If the outcome of the revision is that you were paid less benefit than you should have been you will be paid any money you are owed.

If the outcome of the revision is that you were paid more benefit than you should have been paid you will have been overpaid and you may have to pay the money back.

If the decision is wrong but can’t be revised the decision maker will make a supersession decision. This means you won’t be paid any extra benefit you should have got but you won’t have to pay back any extra benefit you were paid.

Next steps

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