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Challenging a Social Security Scotland benefit decision

This advice applies to Scotland

The decision Social Security Scotland made about your benefit application is called a 'determination'

If you don’t agree with a decision about your benefit application, you can ask Social Security Scotland to look at it again. This is called asking for a 're-determination'. 

You can challenge a decision about your:

  • Best Start Grant
  • Carer's Allowance Supplement but only if you applied from outside Scotland
  • Child Winter Heating Assistance
  • Funeral Support Payment
  • Scottish Child Payment
  • Young Carer Grant

A re-determination isn’t a review. Social Security Scotland will look at your application as if it is a new application, and a new decision will be made.

You can send in new evidence to support your application, although you don’t have to.

These pages do not cover challenging decisions on benefits paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). If you want to challenge a benefit that is paid by DWP or HMRC, you can ask them to look at their decision again - this is called asking for a 'mandatory reconsideration'. Find out more about asking for a mandatory reconsideration

Decisions you can challenge

You can ask for a decision about your benefit to be looked at again if you think Social Security Scotland made the wrong decision. 

For example, if:

  • your benefit application has been refused, but you think you’re eligible
  • you disagree with the amount of benefit you’ve been awarded 

In some cases you can appeal without asking for a re-determination first. For example, you could do this if your benefit application is rejected because Social Security Scotland said it didn't have the correct information, but you sent all of the information needed. This is called a 'process appeal'. Find out more about making a process appeal

Extra help if you have a disability

If you have a physical disability, a learning disability or a mental health condition, you can get help with challenging a decision that Social Security Scotland has made.

This help is provided by putting you in touch with an advocate who can help you express your views, get information you need and help you make decisions.

You can ask for an advocate by contacting Social Security Scotland and asking for the Independent Advocacy Service.

You won’t be eligible for the service if you already have someone acting for you, such as an appointee or someone with a power of attorney.

How long do I have to ask for a re-determination

You need to contact Social Security Scotland within 31 days of the date that you found out about the decision. For Child Winter Heating Assistance the time is within 42 days of the date that you found out about the decision.

If you miss the deadline, you might be able to get more time

You are assumed to receive a letter or an email 48 hours after Social Security Scotland has sent it, unless you can show that there was a delay in you getting the letter or email. For example, if you were in hospital or detained by the police.

Asking for a re-determination

You don't have to explain why you want Social Security Scotland to look at your application again. Although it’s likely to be helpful if you say:

  • why you think the original decision was wrong
  • if there’s any evidence they didn’t take into account

You can ask for a re-determination by:

  • post – by filling out the form that was sent with your decision letter
  • telephone – by phoning Social Security Scotland. Take a note of the date, time and who you speak to

Social Security Scotland 
General Enquiries
PO Box 10301

Phone: 0800 182 2222 (9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday)

If you miss the deadline

You can still ask for a re-determination, but you’ll need to give a good reason for why you missed the deadline. A good reason might be:

  • you were very physically or mentally ill
  • someone you care for was ill 
  • you were away from home and didn’t get the decision letter on time, for example, you were in hospital
  • you didn’t understand the information in the letter, or the next steps you had to take

Social Security Scotland doesn’t have to allow the re-determination. It helps if you have evidence. For example, if you were in hospital, try to get evidence such as a letter from the hospital. 

You’ll need to ask for the re-determination within one year of the original decision date.

How long will the re-determination take

Coronavirus - Social Security Scotland can take longer to make re-determinations

Social Security Scotland has to make a decision about your request for a re-determination as soon as possible. But it can now take up to 9 weeks longer to make these decisions for Best Start Grant, Funeral Support Payment and Young Carer Grant.

This means that it can take 16 working days plus 9 weeks which is 12 weeks and one day. This is because Social Security Scotland is very busy dealing with claims due to coronavirus.

The extension does not apply to re-determinations for the Scottish Child Payment or Child Winter Heating Assistance.

Social Security Scotland must make the re-determination decision within 16 working days of getting your request.

If you make a late re-determination request, Social Security Scotland must make the re-determination within 16 working days of the decision to accept your late request. The decision to accept your late request could be made by Social Security Scotland or by the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber).

Social Security Scotland will write to you to tell you what it has decided. It must give you reasons for the decision.

Appealing to a tribunal 

Social Security Scotland has 16 working days from receiving your re-determination request to make a decision. After it has looked again at your application and made a decision, if you still don't agree, you can appeal your case. 

You appeal your case at an independent tribunal called the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber). 

You should appeal within 31 days of being told the result of your re-determination.

If you miss the 31 day time limit, you may be able to make a late appeal if you’re within one year of the determination. You'll need the tribunal’s permission to make a late appeal. 

If the re-determination decision isn’t made on time 

If Social Security Scotland doesn't make the re-determination decision within 16 working days, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber). Social Security Scotland must write to you and tell you if it hasn't made the decision within the time limit. It must tell you about your right to appeal and include a form for you to use if you want to appeal.

Read more about appealing to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber).

Other help you can get

If you're not awarded a payment or you still need more help, you can:

If you need more help with your re-determination or other issues to do with benefits, you can get advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau, see our get advice page.

Next steps

Find out about appealing to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber).

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