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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 Disability Payment
  • Child Winter Heating Assistance
  • Funeral Support Payment
  • Scottish Child Payment
  • Short-term Assistance
  • 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 don't 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

Check the deadline to ask for a re-determination

You have 31 days from the date you got a decision, to ask for a re-determination about:

  • Best Start Grant
  • Carers Allowance Supplement (but only if you applied from outside Scotland)
  • Funeral Support Payment
  • Scottish Child Payment
  • Young Carer Grant

You have 42 days from the date you got a decision, to ask for a re-determination about:

  • Child Disability Payment
  • Child Winter Heating Allowance

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

You're 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.

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're disabled

If you're disabled or have a health condition, you can get help from the Independent Advocacy Service to challenge a Social Security Scotland decision.

They can help you express your views, get information you need and help you make decisions. You can't use this service if you already have someone acting for you, such as an appointee or someone with a power of attorney.

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

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 of that decision.

Find out more about Short-term Assistance

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
  • phone – 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
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

If you miss the deadline

Coronavirus – more time to challenge decisions

If you have a good reason for missing the deadline, you can still ask for a re-determination or an appeal. Normally this needs to be within 1 year of the decision that you're challenging.

If the reason for the delay is to do with coronavirus, Social Security Scotland can now look at your request for a re-determination if it’s more than 1 year after the decision that you're challenging.

The Tribunal can also consider requests for appeals if its more than 1 year after the decision that you're challenging as long as the reason for the delay is to do with coronavirus.

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 1 year of the original decision date. You can ask after 1 year if you missed the deadline because of coronavirus. 

How long will the re-determination take

Social Security Scotland has 16 working days from getting your request, to make a re-determination decision about:

  • Best Start Grant
  • Carers Allowance Supplement (but only if you applied from outside Scotland)
  • Funeral Support Payment
  • Young Carer Grant

Social Security Scotland has 56 working days from getting your request, to make a re-determination decision about:

  • Child Winter Heating Allowance
  • Short-term Assistance
  • Child Disability Payment

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.

If the re-determination decision is late 

If the re-determination decision is late, 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).

Appealing to a tribunal 

After Social Security Scotland 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’re appealing a decision to reduce or stop Child Disability Payment, you can apply for financial help while you appeal. This is called Short-term Assistance. Tick the box on the appeal form to apply or ask Social Security Scotland over the phone.

If you miss the 31 day time limit, you might be able to make a late appeal if you’re within 1 year of the determination. You can appeal after the 1 year time limit if you missed the deadline because of coronavirus. You'll need the tribunal’s permission to make a late appeal. 

Other help you can get

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

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.

Next steps

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

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