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‘I’ve been put in the work related activity group for Employment and Support Allowance and I want to be in the support group’
> ‘Please tell me about the appeal process, apart from preparing for and attending the appeal hearing’

icon-warning1.jpgThe 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:
I will now describe the procedure in more detail.

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.

You will continue to be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance - including the work-related activity component - until the appeal is finally decided.

icon-warning1.jpg 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.

Sometimes when the Jobcentre Plus looks at a case it decides that it has made a mistake and reverses its previous decision: hurray! Unfortunately this is unusual.

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.
icon-warning1.jpgAt 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

icon-warning1.jpg 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.

icon-warning1.jpgDon’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…