procedure for appealing against benefit decisions changed in 2013.
If you have appealed benefit decisions in the past (before 28th
October 2013) you need to be aware that the process now is not the
same as it was then.
Note: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support decisions are still appealed using the old procedure.
In a nutshell, the procedure works like this:
- You cannot appeal without first asking the Jobcentre Plus to look again at your case: this is called asking for a mandatory reconsideration;
- If the Jobcentre Plus does not change its mind, you then have to
send in your appeal, but you have to send it direct
to the Tribunal Service, not to the Jobcentre Plus.
Stage 1: Ask the Jobcentre Plus for a mandatory reconsideration
When you write asking for a mandatory reconsideration, there is no special form, so it’s important to make sure you include information like your National Insurance Number, the date of the decision(s) you’re not happy with, and exactly why you disagree with the decision(s). You could use the example I have written here.
When you come to give your reasons for appealing make it simple and clear.
- DO tell them why you think their decision is wrong.
- DO list the descriptors that you think apply
- DO tell them if you think that any exceptional circumstances apply
- DON’T write lots of stuff about how the decision has made it hard for you: sadly, it’s not relevant
- TRY and keep a copy of the letter: it may make things easier later.
Make sure your request for a mandatory reconsideration reaches the
Jobcentre Plus by the deadline. This deadline is one month from
the date each decision was sent to you. So if the date on the
Jobcentre Plus letter is 10th March you should make sure your
appeal reaches them by 10th April.
Stage 2: Wait for the Jobcentre Plus to look at your request
It's hard to say at the moment how long this wait is going to be,
because the system is new. However we do know that the Jobcentre Plus
may phone you up during this time to discuss your case.
Either way, when the Jobcentre Plus has finished its work it will write to you to tell you what it has decided (it should send you two copies of this letter). If you are not happy with what it says you will now need to make your appeal.
Stage 3: Appealing to Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunals Service
You now need to appeal directly to Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunals Service, or the Tribunal Service for short.
- You should use the form www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/forms/tribunals/sscs/sscs1.pdf
- Where it asks for your 'grounds for appeal' you could say 'see attached letter' and include a copy of your letter to the Jobcentre Plus, if you have kept one. If you haven't, make sure you include all the reasons you put in your previous letter.
- Send the form off to the Tribunal Service at the address they give you, together with your letter to the Jobcentre Plus (if you've referred to it) and one of the copies of the reconsideration letter that the Jobcentre Plus sent to you.
|At Section 6 of the appeal form it asks whether you want to attend a hearing of your case: you generally have better chance of success if you attend your hearing|
|Make sure your appeal form reaches the Tribunal Service by the deadline. This deadline is one month from the date the Jobcentre Plus replied to you. So if the date on the Jobcentre Plus letter is 1st May you should make sure your appeal reaches them before 1st June. Sometimes your request can be accepted even though it was late. Click here for information about this:‘What can I do if my appeal is late?’ for more information about this.|
When the Tribunal Service receives your appeal it will ask the Jobcentre Plus for all the papers relating to the case. At some point a copy of these papers will be sent to you. This is called your appeal bundle.
|Don’t lose your appeal bundle. Don’t get the pages out of order.|
Stage 4: Prepare for the appeal hearing, wait for an appeal date, and attend the hearing
This is a special subject in its own right…
- ‘Please tell me about preparing for and attending the appeal hearing’
- ‘My appeal was not successful and I want to take the case further’