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Appealing to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber)

This advice applies to Scotland

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

If you want to challenge a determination you usually need to ask them to take a fresh look at the decision before you can appeal. This is called asking for a re-determination. Find out more about asking for a re-determination

If you disagree with a re-determination decision, you might be able to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber).

You can appeal a Social Security Scotland decision about your:

  • Best Start Grant
  • Carer's Allowance Supplement but only if you applied from outside Scotland
  • Child Disability Payment
  • Funeral Support Payment
  • Short-term Assistance
  • Young Carer Grant. 

This page does 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 decision about a benefit paid by the DWP or HMRC, you must usually ask for reconsideration of the decision before you can make an appeal. Find out more about appealing a DWP decision or more about appealing an HMRC decision.

When can you appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber) 

You can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber) if Social Security Scotland:

  • has refused your benefit application after looking at it again
  • has decided not to change the amount of benefit that it is paying you after looking at the decision again
  • hasn’t replied to your request for a re-determination in time
  • has refused your request for a re-determination. This is called a process appeal
  • has rejected your benefit application because it didn’t have the correct information - you can appeal without asking for a re-determination first. This is called a process appeal

The tribunal is independent from Social Security Scotland. It considers the arguments on both sides before making a decision.

How to appeal

You’ll need to fill out the appeal form and send it back to Social Security Scotland. If you don't have a form, you can print one off from mygov.scot.

You can also ask for an appeal by phoning Social Security Scotland. An adviser can fill out the form with you over the phone but they won’t give you advice about your case.

Social Security Scotland 
General Enquiries
PO Box 10301
Dundee
DD1 9FW

Phone: 0800 182 2222 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday)
British Sign Language: contactSCOTLAND app by video relay
Website: www.mygov.scot

You usually have 31 days from receiving a decision letter to make an appeal. Social Security Scotland assumes that you have received your re-determination 48 hours after they sent it, unless you can show that there was a delay in you getting the letter or email.

You should include any information or evidence with your appeal that supports your case if it wasn’t available before you originally applied. 

Social Security Scotland will send your completed appeal form to the tribunal service within 7 days. It will also send the information that it used to make the determination. Social Security Scotland must tell you once it has sent your appeal form and all the information to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Social Security Chamber).

The tribunal will then contact you about the appeal.

If you need more help with an appeal, you can get advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you want to appeal because Social Security Scotland has refused your request for a re-determination

Social Security Scotland can turn down your request for a re-determination if you didn't:

  • ask for the re-determination within the deadline and they think you didn't have a good reason for it being late
  • include the correct information.

You can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber) if you:

  • think you were within the time limit
  • think you did have a good reason for it being late
  • sent all the information needed.

These appeals are called 'process' appeals and you have to use a particular form to make your appeal. The form is available on the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber) website.

You have 31 days to appeal from receipt of the letter from Social Security Scotland informing you that your request for a re-determination has not been accepted. Social Security Scotland assume that you have received your re-determination 48 hours after they sent it, unless you can show that there was a delay in you getting the letter or email.

You can download the form and complete it on your own computer then send it as an attachment by email to the Social Security Chamber. Or you can print the form, complete it in black ink and post it to the address at the top of the form. You should make a copy and keep it for your own records. Ask for free 'proof of postage' from the Post Office. 

If you want to appeal because Social Security Scotland said your benefit application was missing information

Social Security Scotland can reject your benefit application if it thinks you didn’t include all the correct information.

If you disagree with their decision, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber). These appeals are called 'process' appeals and you have to use a particular form to make your appeal. The form is available on the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber) website.

You have 31 days to appeal from receipt of the letter from Social Security Scotland informing you that your benefit application has not been accepted. 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.

You can download the form and complete it on your own computer then send it as an attachment by email to the Social Security Chamber. Or you can print the form, complete it in black ink and post it to the address at the top of the form. You should make a copy and keep it for your own records. Ask for free 'proof of postage' from the Post Office.

Get help from an advocate if you have a disability

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

You can get an advocate to help you express your views, get the information you need and 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.

Financial help while challenging a decision about Child Disability Payment

If you’re challenging a decision to reduce or stop your Child Disability Payment, you can apply for Short-term Assistance. This is a payment from Social Security Scotland to help you while you challenge a decision.

You can apply for the payment by ticking the box on the re-determination or appeal form or asking Social Security Scotland over the phone.

If you don't agree with the decision about your application for Short-term Assistance you can ask for a re-determination or an appeal of that decision.

Find out more about Short-term Assistance.

What happens if you miss the 31 day limit for appealing against the re-determination decision 

You have 31 days from receiving your re-determination decision from Social Security Scotland to appeal.

If you have a good reason for missing the 31 day deadline, you might be able to make a late appeal. A late appeal can be made within 1 year of the re-determination decision. If you missed this deadline because of coronavirus, you can still appeal after the 1 year time limit.

You can use the appeal form you received with the re-determination letter. 

Decisions about late appeals are made by the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber). Social Security Scotland will pass your form and any other documentation to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber).

You should include an explanation of the reason for the appeal being late, but if it’s not a 'good enough' reason the appeal won't be heard. A 'good enough' reason might be that you were unwell in hospital and were unable to make the appeal on time.

If you are acting on behalf of someone making a claim for a payment

In certain circumstances, you might have to act on behalf of the person applying for a payment.

You can continue to act on their behalf if an appeal has to be made to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber).

Read more about acting for someone else.

What happens after the appeal has been submitted 

Your request for an appeal is sent to the department in Social Security Scotland that made the decision about your benefit application. 

A copy of its decision is sent to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber) and you.

The tribunal then decides how to handle the case based on the circumstances. The tribunal could make a decision about your case at a case management discussion or might decide to have a tribunal hearing. 

Before the hearing 

Before the hearing you should send any additional evidence that supports your claim. You can post or email your evidence to the postal address below. Send copies, not originals, and make sure they’re marked with the reference number for your hearing. The reference number should be on any letters you’ve had from the tribunal. 

If there’s going to be a hearing, you should decide whether you’re going to go. Your case is more likely to be successful if you attend the hearing because you can put forward your arguments and answer questions. You don’t have to go alone, you can bring someone to support you or represent you.  

Think about what your argument will be, the reason why you are appealing, and what questions you might be asked. Make notes - you can take these to the hearing with you. Get help to build your case from an adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Social Security Chamber)
Glasgow Tribunals Centre
20 York Place
Glasgow
G2 8GT

Tel: 0141 302 5858
Email: sscadmin@scotcourtstribunals.gov.uk
Website: www.socialsecuritychamber.scot

Public or private hearing

Most tribunal hearings are in public but you can ask for it to be private. If you have an important reason for the hearing to be private you should write to the tribunal before the hearing, explaining why you are making this request. The tribunal might agree, but it doesn’t have to. 

The tribunal is most likely to agree to a private hearing if there are issues about:

  • public order - for example, other ongoing legal matters may mean that the application for help has become public and it is controversial
  • your right to privacy for your family life
  • confidentiality
  • harm to the public interest 
  • prejudice to the interests of justice.

If you want to have a private hearing you should get advice from a local Citizens Advice Bureau about what argument to put to the tribunal about your request for it to be private.

Special support at the hearing

You may need special support to attend and take part at the hearing, for example if you’re disabled or English isn’t your first language. You can ask for special support, like a hearing loop or an interpreter. You can ask for this when you make the appeal or write to the tribunal so it can be arranged before the hearing.

You can’t bring a friend to interpret for you. The interpreter has to be from a recognised translation service and will be paid for by the tribunal service.

You want help with your appeal 

You are allowed to get the help of a representative to make your case. They can also attend a hearing with you.

Anyone can be a representative, including friends and family, if you think they can act for you. 

Read more about getting someone to represent or help you at the tribunal.

You can't get legal aid to help to pay for someone to represent you at a tribunal. You might be able to get a type of legal aid, called advice and assistance, to pay for a solicitor to help to prepare your case.

Read more about legal aid and help with legal costs.

If you want to represent yourself, but still want someone to attend the hearing with you, you can bring a supporter. A supporter can include friends and family. A supporter can give you moral support, but they can’t speak for you. If your supporter wants to give evidence as a witness, you should tell the tribunal clerk this before the hearing starts. 

Going to a tribunal hearing

Procedure at the tribunal hearing

A tribunal may reach a decision based on only the papers presented to it by the parties involved. In most cases those involved are likely to be you, your representative, if you have one, and staff of Social Security Scotland.

The hearing will start with a legally qualified member of the Social Security Chamber, called the 'Convener', introducing the case.

Tribunals are different from courts. The hearing won’t be very formal and you don’t have to address the Convener as “My Lord” or “My Lady”. 

Both you and Social Security Scotland can explain what the appeal is about. The convener may ask you and Social Security Scotland questions.

If you’re representing yourself, take your time answering any questions. You can ask for a few minutes to collect your thoughts or look at your notes. 

The convener will make a decision about your appeal. In most cases reasons will be given for the decision.

You have the right to ask for a written statement of reasons for the decision if you aren't given one. You must ask the Tribunal for the statement within 31 days of being notified of a decision and you must ask in writing.

How to claim expenses

You can claim for some of your costs of attending the tribunal, like:

  • travel – for the cost of transport to the tribunal
  • subsistence – for the extra cost of meals that you buy while attending the tribunal
  • loss of earnings or other benefits
  • childminding fees – if there are extra costs for childminding or babysitting
  • adult carer allowance – for the extra cost of caring for a dependant adult
  • other expenses – you may be entitled to claim for any other expenses you wouldn’t normally have

Check the guidance about claiming expenses on the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber) website.

Challenging the decision of the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber)

If you don’t agree with a decision that the Tribunal has made, you can challenge it if you can show that the Tribunal made an ‘error of law’. This means that it made a mistake like interpreting the law incorrectly or not following the correct procedure. 

You can challenge a decision in 2 ways. You can: 

  • ask for a review of the First-tier Tribunal’s decision
  • apply for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal. 

You can’t ask for a review or appeal to the Upper Tribunal about decisions in process appeals. 

There are pros and cons of asking for a review or applying for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal. These are likely to depend on the circumstances of your case. There is a shorter time limit for asking for a review, although this can be extended. A review might be a quicker way to get the Tribunal decision changed, but it won’t affect any future cases in the way that an Upper Tribunal decision will 

If you’re not sure whether to ask for a review or apply for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal, get advice 

Review of a decision

If you disagree with the decision made at the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber), you can ask for a review. 

You can ask for a review if you think the tribunal made an administrative error or applied the law incorrectly, for example, if the tribunal didn’t give good reasons for its decision or you weren’t given enough notice of the hearing and didn't have time to prepare your case properly. 

A request for a review must be made within 14 days of the decision being made or notified to you. 

While the tribunal is considering the review the time limit for making an appeal is stalled. 

You can get Short-term Assistance if the Tribunal decides to set aside the Tribunal’s decision about your Child Disability Payment as a result of the review and is going to make a new decision about your entitlement.

Appealing against a decision made by the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber)

If you want to appeal against a decision made by the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security Chamber) you will have to ask for permission to do so.

You'll also have to identify which points in law you want to appeal, for example, if the tribunal applied the law incorrectly or didn’t give good reasons for its decision. 

You have to ask in writing for permission to appeal and you say what outcome you want. You must do this within 30 days of the decision being made by the First-tier Tribunal.

If you miss the 30 day time limit you will have to ask for an extension to the time limit and explain why the request is late, for example, because you were in hospital.

Other help you can get

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

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