Challenging an Attendance Allowance decision - appealing the decision
Before you can appeal, you must have already asked the Department of Communities (DfC) to look at the decision again - this is called ‘mandatory reconsideration’. You can read our guide on how to ask for mandatory reconsideration.
If the DfC didn’t change their decision when you asked for mandatory reconsideration, you can appeal to an independent panel called a tribunal.
The tribunal will look at your evidence and hear what you have to say, then will make a decision. The tribunal is independent - it’s not part of the DfC.
Challenging an Attendance Allowance decision could mean you end up with less AA than you were originally awarded, or nothing at all. Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re about to challenge a decision.
When you can appeal to a tribunal
You can appeal against any decision made about your AA claim. Some of the most common reasons are:
- you didn’t get awarded AA
- you got a lower rate of AA than you expected
To appeal to a tribunal, you’ll need:
- your letter from the DfC 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 1 month of the date shown on the mandatory reconsideration notice. The form must get to the tribunal within the 1 month
It’s worth appealing to a tribunal if you think their decision is wrong. The process can be draining but it’s worth remembering that many AA decisions are overturned by the tribunal.
Change of circumstances while appealing
The tribunal can’t consider whether your condition has got worse since the decision you’re challenging was made. If you were told you can’t get Attendance Allowance and your condition changes and you need more care or supervision, then you’ll have to make a new claim (you can still continue with your appeal as well).
Get advice from your nearest Citizens Advice if your circumstances change while you're appealing.
Getting help with your appeal
You might be able to get someone to act as your representative during the appeal - they don’t have to be a lawyer or a professional. They can help you with the paperwork and might speak on your behalf. You can ask your nearest Citizens Advice if they can help you find a representative.
Fill in the appeal form
Fill in an appeal form, called NOA1(SS). You can get the NOA1(SS) form and guidance notes from nidirect. Make sure you complete the whole appeal form or your appeal could be rejected.
You can also phone the Appeals Service and ask them to post you a form.
The Appeals Service
Telephone: 028 9054 4000
Explain why you’re appealing
The most important part of the form is ‘Section 3: Grounds for appeal’. In this box you need to give the specific reasons why you disagree with the decision.
Use your decision letter and mandatory reconsideration notice to list 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 when you wrote your mandatory reconsideration letter - if so, you can use the same examples and pieces of evidence again.
You can include all this information on a separate sheet if you’d prefer, just write ‘See enclosed information’ in the Section 3 box and attach any papers securely to the form.
Example of a Section 3 response
The DfC decision letter says I’m not entitled to AA because I don’t need continual supervision to avoid substantial damage to myself or others. This is incorrect. When I’m at home I need other people to be with me at all times because I can fall and hurt myself when no one is there to watch me. In the past I have knocked heavy things off shelves and hit my head on furniture when I have fallen. This situation could cause me substantial damage. I need continual supervision to avoid damage to myself.
If you’ve missed the appeal deadline
If you have missed the deadline, you can still send in the NOA1(SS) form up to 13 months after the date of the original decision. In Section 2 you’ll need to explain why it’s late (for example, if you were in hospital, you should explain that personal circumstances made it impossible to return the form in time).
Send the form
Send your documents to The Appeals Service (TAS), not to the Disability and Carers Service. The address is on the form.
You should include the following:
the completed form
a copy of your mandatory reconsideration notice
any further evidence you have, although you can send this later if you need to
Post your appeal documents by recorded delivery if you can. Otherwise ask for proof of postage when posting the documents. 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.
After you send the form
If TAS accepts your appeal it will notify you that your appeal is being processed and has been forwarded to the DfC for their response.
They will send you an enquiry form asking for more information about your needs for the appeal hearing, including whether you want to have a 'paper hearing', which you don't attend, or an 'oral tribunal', which you do attend.
You have 14 days to reply.
TAS will then send you:
- a copy of the DfC's response and any evidence they've used to make their decision (this is sometimes called the 'bundle') - it’s important to read through the response to understand the case that the DfC are making.
- information about what happens next
If you have asked to have an oral hearing, they will give you at least 14 days' notice of the date, time and location of your tribunal hearing.
Read more about appealing a benefit decision