Challenging a decision about benefits? Unclear what mandatory reconsideration means?

The rules for challenging or appealing against a benefit decision for most benefits paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) changed on 28 October 2013.  The new rules already apply to Universal Credit (UC) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

What’s changed?

If you disagree with a decision about your benefit that is dated on or after 28 October 2013, you now have to ask the DWP to look at the decision again before you can appeal. This is known as mandatory reconsideration.  This applies to all DWP benefits and some child maintenance decisions. No appeal can be launched until the DWP has decided on the request for a mandatory reconsideration.  You can’t appeal until you get a decision from the DWP on your request for reconsideration. If you disagree with the outcome of the reconsideration and you want to appeal, you must send your appeal directly to the appeal tribunal, not to the DWP. This is known as direct lodgement.

Will I still get my benefits while I’m waiting for the outcome of reconsideration?

For most DWP benefits, if you’re asking for a reconsideration or appealing a claim that’s been refused, you won’t be paid any benefit until the outcome has been decided.  If you were awarded a DWP benefit at a reduced rate and you’re asking for a mandatory reconsideration because you think you should get a higher rate, the benefit will continue to be paid at the reduced rate until the outcome has been decided.

What about Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Under the old rules, you could move straight to appeal, so your ESA could be paid while you were waiting for the appeal to take place.  Now, if your claim is refused as a result of the Work Capability Assessment, you will no longer be entitled to payment of ESA while your decision is being reconsidered. You will have to wait for the outcome of the mandatory reconsideration.

If you then decide to appeal, ESA will start to be paid at the assessment rate while you wait for the appeal hearing.  While you’re waiting for a decision on your request for a mandatory reconsideration, you won’t be entitled to:

  • hardship payments, unless you’ve been sanctioned.
  • an advance payment of benefit.

You may have to consider claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance while waiting for a decision on your ESA. However, you’ll need to be willing to look for work and meet the usual Jobcentre requirements.

The following benefits are not affected by these changes:

  • Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Child Benefit.
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