From 28th October 2013, it has become much more difficult to challenge a decision on many benefits, including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA). For all decisions dated 28th October or later a Mandatory Reconsideration must take place before an appeal can be lodged.
The system particularly disadvantages ESA claimants, who will not be eligible to receive ESA at the assessment phase rate until the mandatory reconsideration has been completed and they have lodged an appeal. In the meantime, they will have to either try to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or have no income replacement benefit at all.
Mandatory reconsideration has been in force for PIP and Universal Credit since April, however the new system will now affect claimants of all other DWP benefits, not including Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support decisions, as these are paid by Local Authorities.
When you are sent your decision letter, it will include information on how to request a Mandatory Reconsideration and where to send your request. It is important that you do so within one month of the date of the decision, as there is no right to appeal against a decision not to reconsider your claim if you are late!
Mandatory Reconsideration is an internal review of the decision and although it can also be requested by telephone, we would always advise confirming by letter, as phone calls are not always recorded correctly. We also advise that you keep a copy of your request and a proof of posting slip, in case your papers aren’t received by the Department.
A different decision maker should look through all of the evidence used to decide your claim and will phone you for any further information if they think they will not be able to decide in your favour. If you are able to answer phone calls, you may wish to keep a note by your phone of all the things you want to say to support your claim, in case you receive this call.
If you don’t receive a phone call, it is likely that the decision will be altered in your favour, however as there are no time limits on how long the DWP can take to reconsider your claim, it is difficult to know how long it will take before your hear anything from them – by phone or letter.
If the decision after this process is unchanged or you still disagree with it, only then can you lodge an appeal. Information about how to do this will be included with your letter, along with two copies of the Mandatory Reconsideration notice: one for you to keep and one to send directly to the Tribunals Service with your appeal.
You must send your Mandatory Reconsideration decision notice with your appeal form, otherwise the tribunals service will not accept your appeal until they have received it. If you mislay it, you can ask for the DWP to provide you with another copy, however this will delay your appeal, which must also be received within one month from the decision notice date.
You will no longer be able to get an appeal form from the DWP, as they will become the “respondents” in what will now become a legal process. Do not let this put you off, as many appeals to tribunal are successful.
Your appeal will need to be lodged on a SSCS1 form, which can be downloaded, or possibly obtained from a local advice or information centre and maybe your Local Authority. You need to send this form, along with your mandatory reconsideration notice direct to the Tribunal Service. The address will be included in the information you are sent.
There are new and updated guides in the members area of the site to take you step-by-step through the whole complex process.
We have also published a set of FAQs dealing with mandatory reconsiderations for ESA.Tweet