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Challenging a DLA decision - mandatory reconsideration

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

You can challenge a decision on the DLA claim you made for your child, for example if:

  • you’ve been told your child’s not eligible for DLA
  • you’ve been given a lower rate than you expected

It’s possible that you could end up with less DLA than you were originally awarded, or nothing at all. We recommend that you get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re about to challenge a decision. 

If you got your decision before 23 May 2016

If you got your decision before 23 May 2016 and you think your decision is wrong, you must follow a different process to appeal.

Read about challenging a benefit decision made before 23 May 2016.

Apply for ‘mandatory reconsideration’

The first step is to ask Disability and Carers Service to review their decision. This is called ‘mandatory reconsideration’. It means that if you phone or write to the Disability and Carers Service they have to look at your application again and give you a formal response.

The best way to apply for mandatory reconsideration is to write a letter explaining why you disagree with their decision. You need to make sure that the Disability and Carers Service gets the letter within 1 month of the decision. The decision date is the date on your letter, not the date you received it. If there’s a risk that the letter won’t arrive in time, you should ring the Disability and Carers Service to say you want them to reconsider the decision and that your letter will be sent shortly.

Your decision letter will say that you can call the DLA helpline to ask for a reconsideration. You can do this, but it’s best to have everything in writing in case you need written proof down the line. If you prefer to call, you should also write a letter summarising what you talked about over the phone.

Disability and Carers Service
Telephone: 0300 123 3356
Textphone: 028 9031 1092
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (closed bank holidays)

Your decision letter will tell you where to send your reconsideration letter. Make a copy of your reconsideration letter before you send it in case it gets lost or you need to refer to it later.

It may or may not provide much detail - often initial decisions only repeat the law e.g. "Your child does not have needs substantially in excess of what is normally required..." or "Your child does not need frequent attention throughout the day in connection with bodily functions".

What to put in the letter

You need to write the reasons specific to your child’s claim and why you disagree with the decision.

Look at your decision letter. It will show how the Disability and Carers Service has decided on your application. Make a note of the statements you disagree with and why.

In your reconsideration letter, give facts, examples and further medical evidence (if available) to support what you're saying. One way to be clear about what you disagree with is to use the same words that they use in the decision.

Below is an example of what a reconsideration request letter might say. Every reconsideration request letter will be different - yours needs to contain examples that are specific to your child's needs as a unique individual.

“Your letter says I’m not entitled to DLA because my child doesn’t need continual supervision to avoid substantial damage to himself or others. This is incorrect. When my child is at home I have to be in the same room with him at all times because he can hurt himself when I’m not there to watch him. He often throws fits - in the past he has knocked heavy things off shelves and hit his head on furniture. This could cause him substantial damage. He needs continual supervision to avoid damage to himself.”

If you need some help with your reconsideration request, contact your local Citizens Advice. Try to get in touch straight away - you might have to wait for an appointment and you only have a month to send your letter in.

If you’ve missed the deadline

If you’ve missed the 1 month deadline, you can still apply for a reconsideration, as long as it’s within 13 months of the decision. You’ll need to give a good reason for being late, like a bereavement or being in hospital.

The Disability and Carers Service doesn’t have to consider a late application, so try to send your letter as soon as you can. Explain in the letter why your application is late, as well as why you disagree with their decision.

Talk to your nearest Citizens Advice if your application is rejected because of lateness.

Getting your mandatory reconsideration letter

The Disability and Carers Service doesn’t have to make a decision on your mandatory reconsideration within a specific timescale. Sometimes it can take several months to get a decision, especially if you send in new evidence.

The decision letter is called a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’ - and you’ll be sent 2 copies.

If the Disability and Carers Service changes their initial decision, you’ll start getting your DLA payment straight away. Your payment for DLA will start from the date of the original decision (or from the date you phoned for the application form). If you’re challenging the rate you’ve been put on and the Disability and Carers Service changes the decision in your favour, they'll pay you the difference for the time it takes them to make the decision.

Don’t be put off if they don’t change the decision if it’s not in your favour, not many decisions are overturned at this stage. More decisions are changed after the next stage, which is appealing to a tribunal.

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