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You want to change your DfC benefit decision because your circumstances have changed

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

If you're already getting a DfC benefit your circumstances may change. This can affect your entitlement to the benefit or how much money you get.

You are responsible for telling the Department for Communities (DfC) that your circumstances have changed.

This page tells you more about what to do if your circumstances change, how your benefit decision may be changed and what to do if you don't agree with the DfC's decision.

What are changes of circumstances?

If your circumstances change you need to tell the DfC so that they can look at your decision again. Changes of circumstances you must report include:

  • getting a job or increasing your hours of work
  • losing your job or decreasing your hours of work
  • someone joining or leaving your household
  • birth of a child
  • if your health condition or disability gets better or worse
  • getting more income or capital
  • you become ill and are unable to work.

These are only examples of changes you must report. Remember you must report any other change in circumstances that could alter the amount of benefit you get, or which mean that you should no longer get benefit.

How the DfC will change the decision

If you ask for your claim to be looked at again because of a change of circumstances, the DfC will look at making a supersession decision. This changes the decision from the date when the change happens or when the DfC first become aware of the change. For most DfC benefits you should report the change of circumstances within one month of them happening.

Why it’s best to report a change of circumstances as soon as you can

It’s important to tell the DfC about a change of circumstances as soon as you can or you may lose out on extra benefit if you’re entitled to it. You will only be paid from the date of the change if you tell the DfC within one month.

If you delay reporting a change of circumstances

If you miss the deadline, you will only be paid from the date you tell the DfC unless you have good reasons for being late. You must:

  • apply to the decision maker for an extension of time explaining why the application is late and why you want an extension. The application must give enough information for the decision maker to identify the decision you want to dispute
  • apply within 13 months of the date the you should have told the DfC about the change, and
  • the decision maker must be satisfied that it is reasonable to extend the time limit, and
  • you show that there are special circumstances that meant it was not reasonably possible for you to apply in time.

Remember that the longer you delay telling the DfC about the change, the stronger your reasons for why you haven't told them will have to be.

How to report a change of circumstances

You can phone the helpline that deals with your benefit to report the change of circumstances. If you do this, it's best to also confirm the change in writing to the office that deals with your claim. You don't need to fill in a special form. You can just write a letter setting out the changes and the date when they happened.

If you don't agree with the outcome on the decision about your change of circumstances

If you don't agree with the outcome of a decision after you've reported a change of circumstances, you can ask the DfC for a reconsideration.

Next steps

Asking for a reconsideration of your benefit decision

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