Challenging an Attendance Allowance decision - mandatory reconsideration
You can challenge an Attendance Allowance decision, for example if:
- you’ve been told you can’t get the benefit
- you’ve been given a lower rate than you expected
If you want to challenge the decision because your condition has got worse you’ll need to follow a different procedure, so you should get advice from your nearest Citizens Advice
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.
Apply for ‘mandatory reconsideration’
The first step is to ask the DWP to review their decision. This is called ‘mandatory reconsideration’. It means that if you phone or write to the DWP they have to look at your application again and give you a formal response.
You have to apply for mandatory reconsideration before you can appeal a decision.
The best way to apply for mandatory reconsideration is to write a letter to the DWP explaining why you disagree with their decision.
Your decision letter will tell you where to send your reconsideration letter. Make a copy of your mandatory reconsideration letter before you send it in case it gets lost or you need to refer to it later.
You need to make sure that the DWP gets the letter within 1 month of the decision. The decision date is the date on your letter, not the date you received it.
What to put in the letter
You need to write the reasons specific to your condition and why you disagree with the decision.
Look at your decision letter. It will tell you the reasons why the DWP made the decision. Make a note of the statements you disagree with and why you disagree.
Your decision letter might not give much information about why you've been turned down.
In your reconsideration letter, give facts, examples and medical evidence (if available) to support what you're saying. Make sure you use the same words that they use in the decision letter.
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 needs.
Your 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 need help with your reconsideration request, contact your nearest Citizens Advice. Try to get in touch straight away - you might have to wait for an appointment and you only have 1 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 DWP 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.
If you call the DWP to ask for mandatory reconsideration
It's best to write to the DWP to ask for a mandatory reconsideration. If you call them, they might want to speak to you about your decision before they look at it again. They'll call you back to tell you why your claim was refused. They'll usually do this within 24 hours of your call.
Tell them you don't agree with their decision so you want a mandatory reconsideration. You need to give your evidence to explain why you disagree with the decision, so make sure you've got it ready.
Make sure you tell the DWP if you often need:
- help with personal care during the day or night, or both
- someone to look after you during the day to make sure you're safe
- someone to wake up during the night to watch over you and make sure you're safe
You should also tell the DWP if you forgot to write something in your claim form or want to explain something in more detail. It's important to do this because the DWP will look at your AA decision again while they're on the phone with you.
They'll tell you if they think you should get AA when you speak to them - you won't have to wait for a letter. You should make a note of what you talked about to help you remember what was said.
If the DWP don't change their decision and you still think you should get AA, you'll need to apply for a mandatory reconsideration. Make sure you tell the person on the phone that you're going to do this. You'll need to follow the normal mandatory reconsideration process.
AA helpline (at the DWP)
Telephone: 0800 731 0122
Textphone: 0800 731 0317
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Calls to these numbers are free.
Getting your mandatory reconsideration decision letter
The DWP doesn’t have to make a decision on your mandatory reconsideration request within a specific timescale - sometimes it can take several months to get your decision letter. You can complain to the DWP by phone or by writing if you are waiting a long time for your letter.
The decision letter is called a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’, and you’ll be sent 2 copies.
If the DWP changes their decision, you’ll start getting your AA payment straight away. Your payment for AA will start from the date of your claim.
If you’re challenging the rate you’ve been put on and the DWP changes the decision in your favour, they'll pay you the difference from the date of your claim.
Don’t be put off if they don’t change the decision, not many decisions are overturned at this stage. More decisions are changed after the next stage, which is appealing to a tribunal.