If you think a decision made about your benefits is wrong, you can ask the office that made it to explain or reconsider. Challenging a benefit decision might sound daunting, but don't be put off - the process may be easier than you think.
Ask for mandatory reconsideration
You can't appeal a decision unless a decision maker has first had the opportunity to reconsider it. This is known as ‘mandatory reconsiderations’.
Before requesting a reconsideration, you can ask the office that made the decision to send you a 'written statement of reasons' explaining why it was made.
If you ask for a reconsideration, you should explain why you think it was wrong and send them any evidence you have to support your argument.
You will receive a 'mandatory reconsideration notice' when your application has been decided which will tell you the outcome. Your mandatory reconsideration notice will also tell you if you have a right to appeal and how to appeal.
It's important to remember that once your decision has been reconsidered, your benefit could be increased, reduced, stopped altogether or continued at the same amount.
Time limit for reconsiderations
You can ask the office to reconsider within one month of the date that you received the original decision. The date you must request a reconsideration by should be on your decision letter.
If you have asked for a written statement of reasons for your decision, the one-month time limit can be extended by 14 days.
They may accept a late application (within 13 months of the date that you received the original decision) if there is a good reason for doing so. This may be because:
- there is a lot of money at stake
- you have a particularly strong case
- there is a good reason why it was late, such as illness or bereavement.
If they refuse to accept a late application within the 13 months, they should send you a Mandatory Reconsideration Notification with details of your appeal rights. You can then appeal against the original decision with the independent tribunal, as detailed on the next page.