How to Challenge a Benefits Decision?
What does it mean ‘asking for DWP mandatory reconsideration’? In simple terms, it means you disagree with a decision made about your claim for benefits, child maintenance, or tax credits.
Hence, it is the official and correct way of asking one of the government departments to look at your case again and to ‘reconsider’ or ‘review’ whether the decision they made is correct.
There are several reasons why people with rights to benefits can ask for a reappraisal – usually from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
So, you can ask for a mandatory reconsideration any time you believe that:
- The benefits office dealing with your particular claim made an error or they missed some important evidence.
- There are valid grounds for disagreeing with the actual reasons behind the benefits decision already given to you.
- There is enough evidence or conflict to justify a request for the decision to be looked at again.
That being said, there are certain kinds of benefit decisions that cannot be reconsidered. You can find out for sure by checking the original decision letter sent to you by the relevant department.
List of Benefits You Can Challenge
The most common welfare benefits and allowances that qualify for mandatory reconsideration include:
- Attendance Allowance
- Bereavement Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance
- Carer’s Credit
- Child maintenance (also called ‘child support’)
- Compensation Recovery Scheme (includes NHS recovery claims)
- Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme
- Disability Living Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Funeral Expenses Payment
- Income Support
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Maternity Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Sure Start Maternity Grant
- Universal Credit (including advance payments)
- Winter Fuel Payment
You must follow a different process to challenge a benefit decision (mandatory reconsideration) about:
- Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Tax credits appeals and complaints
- Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare
- Vaccine Damage Payment
How to Ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration
There are several ways to contact the benefits office that handed out your original decision, such as by:
- Downloading a mandatory reconsideration request form
- Writing a letter
You will find the contact details of each department written on your decision letter.
Remember, they need to receive your request within thirty days of the decision date (especially if you are sending a letter or a form).
Mandatory Reconsideration and Universal Credit
You should be able to sign into your Universal Credit account through GOV.UK and use your journal to ask for a mandatory reconsideration. If not, you can challenge a benefit decision by:
- Writing a letter and addressing it to the department stated on your decision letter.
- Filling in a form on screen (form CRMR1), downloading it, and then returning it to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
- Calling the helpline for claimants of Universal Credit.
Universal Credit Helpline
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Welsh language: 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm
Learn more about call charges
Before You Ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration
The office that is dealing with your claim for benefits can help you decide whether to ask for mandatory reconsideration or not (and what evidence you need to give).
The staff can answer any questions you may have and provide you with an explanation for making the decision on your benefits. Nevertheless, you can still ask for mandatory reconsideration even after discussing your case with the staff at the benefits office.
How to get a ‘Written Statement of Reasons’
Supposing you want an explanation in writing? If so, you should ask for a ‘written statement of reasons’. In simple terms, it is an official explanation (in writing) given to you by the benefits office that is dealing with your claim.
If you are challenging a benefits decision about Personal Independence Payment (PIP) the decision letter will automatically include a written statement of reasons.
Challenging a Benefit Decision ‘After One Month’
In general, you would need to have a valid reason to ask for mandatory reconsideration after one month has passed. A typical example might be because you were ill in hospital or there was a family bereavement.
Even so, you would still need to provide an explanation as to why the request is late. Be sure to call the phone number on the decision letter before you start the request.
You would need to give your name and address, as well as some extra details about:
- The date of the original benefit decision
- Your date of birth
- Your National Insurance number
- Which part of the decision is wrong (and why)
Sending Evidence for a Mandatory Reconsideration
If you want to send in some ‘new’ evidence about your claim it should be something that shows why you feel the decision was wrong. So, for example, it could be:
- New medical evidence
- Reports or care plans (e.g. from nurses, specialists, or therapists)
- Bank statements or payslips
Any evidence you send should have your full name, date of birth, and National Insurance number written at the top. Send it to the same benefit office where you applied for the benefit.
Furthermore, including any of the following would be unlikely to help your claim:
- General information about your condition (e.g. factsheets, medical certificates, sick notes).
- Appointment cards or letters about medical appointments. An exception may apply if you were unable to claim your benefit because you were attending the appointment.
- Letters about medical tests that you will have in the future.
The DWP produce guidance notes (CRMR1A) that explain more about how to disagree with a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Getting a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice
So, what will happen next? The benefits office that handed out the original benefit decision reconsiders it. Following that, they will send you a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’.
The notice informs you whether they changed their decision (or not). It will also explain more about the grounds for that particular decision and the evidence that they based it on.
Disagreeing with the Outcome (Make an Appeal)
What if you still think the decision in the mandatory reconsideration notice is wrong? The next step would be to appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.
This kind of tribunal operates independently of the government. Hence, a judge listens to both sides of the disagreement before making a final decision.
As a rule, you need to make your appeal within one (1) month of the date stated on your mandatory reconsideration notice.
But, you must already have your mandatory reconsideration notice before you can make an appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.