How to challenge a benefit decision
If you think a decision made about your benefits is wrong, you can ask for it to be explained or looked at again.
Ask for mandatory reconsideration
Before you can appeal a decision, the decision maker must first have the chance to reconsider it. This is called ‘mandatory reconsideration’. If the decision is looked at again, as well as increasing your benefit, a mandatory reconsideration could also maintain, reduce or even stop it.
Before requesting a reconsideration, you can ask for an explanation of the decision in writing. This is called a 'written statement of reasons'.
You need to ask for a mandatory reconsideration within one month of the date you received the decision. The deadline should be on your decision letter. If you have asked for a written statement of reasons, the one-month time limit can be extended by 14 days.
Ordinarily you will need to ask for a mandatory reconsideration within the deadline however they may accept a late application if there is a good reason for doing so i.e. if there is a lot of money at stake, you have a particularly strong case, or there is a good reason why it was late, such as illness or bereavement.
If you ask for a reconsideration, you should explain why you think the decision was wrong and send any supporting evidence you have.
You will receive a 'mandatory reconsideration notice' when your application has been decided. This will tell you the outcome, if you have a right to appeal and how to appeal.
Appealing your benefit decision
A decision cannot be appealed unless it has first been reconsidered. If you’re not happy with the outcome of the reconsideration, you can appeal to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS), where your appeal will be heard by an independent tribunal called the First-Tier tribunal.
How to submit your appeal
You must submit the appeal request in writing. You can write a letter but it's best to use the specific appeal form detailed on your mandatory reconsideration notice. You will need to send a copy of your mandatory reconsideration notice to HMCTS with your appeal form.
In most cases, you can ask for an appeal up to one month from the date the mandatory reconsideration notice was sent, although a late appeal may be accepted if there is a good reason for the delay.
When you request an appeal, you must explain why you think the decision is wrong and include any further evidence to support your argument.
After receiving your request, HMCTS will contact you to tell you what will happen next.