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Challenging a benefit decision made before 23 May 2016

If you want to challenge a decision made before 23 May 2016 about a benefit, you can ask the office that made the decision to explain it, you can ask for it to be reconsidered or you can appeal it. You need to make sure you follow the right procedure if you want to try and get the decision changed.

This page tells you more about the appeals process you should follow for benefits paid by the Social Security Agency (SSA). It does not cover challenging decisions on tax credits, Child Benefit, Housing Benefit or Rate Relief.

Benefits paid by the Social Security Agency (SSA)

Benefits paid by the Social Security Agency (SSA) are:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Bereavement benefits
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Social Fund payments
  • State Pension
  • Universal Credit
  • Widow's benefits.

Benefits paid by HM Revenue and Customs

  • Child Benefit
  • Guardian's Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit.

Challenging an SSA benefit decision

Asking for an explanation of the decision

If you disagree with a SSA decision you can ask the office that sent you the decision for an explanation of the decision or for a written statement of reasons, if you have not already received one. You can ask for an explanation of every decision. This will not affect your right to ask for the decision to be looked at again or to appeal it.

You have one month from the date on the decision letter to contact the office that sent you the letter. You can contact them by phone or in writing. The phone number and address of the office will be on the front page of the letter.

Asking for the decision to be looked at again

If you want to change a SSA benefit decision made before 23 May 2016, you can ask the SSA to look at the decision again. This is called a reconsideration. You can also appeal it directly. There may be facts that you think the SSA has overlooked in the decision or you may have additional evidence which could affect the decision. You must normally ask for a SSA decision to be looked at again within one month of the date of the decision. This deadline may be extended if there are special circumstances why you couldn't apply within the time limit.

The SSA decision letter will tell you how to ask for the decision to be looked at again. You will usually be able to ask for a reconsideration over the phone or in writing, but it best to apply in writing or to confirm your phone call in writing.

If the decision is changed, the SSA will send you a new decision letter. It will tell you your new revision and appeal rights.

If the benefit decision was made on or after 23 May 2016 your decision letter will say that if you want to challenge the decision you must ask for a mandatory reconsideration.

Challenging a benefit decision made on or after 23 May 2016

Appealing against an SSA benefit decision made before 23 May 2016

If you disagree with the outcome of a reconsideration, or if you want to appeal without first asking for a reconsideration, you can appeal directly to an independent tribunal. Complete the SSA form GL24 if you think the decision is wrong.  Alternatively, you can write to the SSA saying which decision you are appealing and giving your reason. Your appeal must be in writing. You need to return the appeal form or letter to the office that sent you the decision.

If you decide to appeal, your appeal must arrive at the office that sent you the decision within one month of the date on your decision letter or your reconsideration notice. This time limit can only be extended in special circumstances.

If you want to appeal a SSA decision made on or after 23 May 2016, you have to ask for a reconsideration before you can appeal it.

Appealing a benefit decision made on or after 23 May 2016

More useful information

For more information on how to appeal a benefits decision go to www.nidirect.gov.uk.

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