If you think a decision about your benefits is wrong, you can ask the office that made the decision to explain it. You can also ask to get the decision reconsidered and, if you're still unhappy, you can appeal against the decision to an independent tribunal.
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If you disagree with a benefits decision
When the benefits office sends you a letter about their decision, if you do not agree, you can ask them to explain or reconsider it.
If you're unhappy with a reconsidered decision you can appeal.
You can ask for an explanation or reconsideration of every decision, but some benefit decisions cannot be appealed.
For example, you can't appeal against decisions on:
The decision letter will make it clear if it can't be appealed.
You have one month:
- after getting a decision to ask for it to be explained, reconsidered or to appeal
- after getting a reconsidered decision to start an appeal
A late appeal may be accepted if you have special circumstances that prevented you appealing in time. You cannot appeal if more than 13 months have passed.
How to appeal
Information on how to appeal is normally included in the decision letter.
In most cases, it involves:
- filling in the appeal form in the leaflet 'If you think our decision is wrong'
- posting the appeal form to the benefits office dealing with your claim
You can pick up the leaflet at your local benefits office or download it, below, from the Department for Work and Pensions website.
But if you are appealing in these cases follow the procedures below:
If you don't agree with a decision made by the Child Support Agency (CSA), you can contact the CSA centre that made the decision. (Their contact details will be on the letter explaining the decision.)
If you're not happy with the outcome, you can write to the CSA Central Appeals Unit.
Find out more about what to do if you don't agree with a decision made by the CSA using the following link.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit
These benefits are handled by your local council, so you'd normally contact your local council office to query the decision and follow their appeals procedure.
Follow the links below to your local authority website to find out more.
Benefits for disabled people
For queries about Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance, call the Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance Helpline, 08457 123 456, textphone 08457 224 433. Lines are open from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm, Monday to Friday.
If you're not satisfied with the results, you may be able to appeal by using the DWP leaflet 'If you think our decision is wrong'.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) makes decisions about tax credits.
You can download the appeal form online, below, or you can call the Tax credit helpline.
Child Benefit and Guardians Allowance
These benefits are also handled by HMRC, appeal forms are available online or by phoning the Child Benefit helpline.
The Social Security and Child Support Appeals Tribunal
The First-tier tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) can explain the procedure and help you through the appeal process.
You can also order information leaflets using the Customer Leaflet Hotline on 08700 852 611, typetalk 18001 08700 852 611. Calls are charged at local rate.
Who hears the appeal?
Appeals are heard by a tribunal; a panel of up to three members, one of whom is legally qualified.
There are two kinds of tribunal hearing:
- oral hearing - where you or your representative can attend to discuss your appeal
- paper hearing - where you or your representative do not appear and the case is decided on the written evidence
Advice and help with your appeal
Some organisations offer help and advice (some for free) with your appeal, including:
The CAB will help you fill in forms and may accompany you to the hearing. Or you could ask an adviser, friend or family member to appeal on your behalf.
You may be able to claim some expenses for travelling to a tribunal. You can't claim for legal expenses and solicitors' fees - even if you win.
If you lose the appeal
If you don't agree with the tribunal's decision, you can only challenge it if:
- you didn't get a document that was used at the hearing
- you weren't present at the hearing although you wanted to be
But if you think the tribunal made a mistake in how they applied the law, you can ask for permission to appeal to an Upper Tribunal.