If you believe your benefits were unfairly cut, or reduced in error, you can appeal to challenge the reduction.
To appeal a reduction in any benefit aside from Housing Benefit, the rules are generally as follows:
Contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to review the decision. This is called Mandatory Reconsideration. They will then give you a ‘Mandatory Reconsideration Notice’ which tells you whether or not they have changed their decision to reduce your benefits. If you’re not satisfied with the outcome, the notice will indicate whether you can go ahead with an appeal to an independent tribunal. If you can and wish to appeal, you should aim to do so within one month of receiving the notice.
You begin the appeals process by applying to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).
If you’re appealing a decision made by the DWP, you can do so here. You’ll need your National Insurance number and details from your Mandatory Reconsideration Notice. If you would prefer not to apply online, you can print and complete form SSCS1 and send it to the address on the form.
If you’re appealing a decision made by HMRC, you’ll have to do so via post. Print out and complete form SSCS5 and send it to the address on the form, along with a copy of your Mandatory Reconsideration Notice.
The DWP or HMRC should send any evidence you’ve already provided to HMCTS, so you don’t need to send it again when you appeal. Any new evidence can be uploaded with your online application or posted along with your form. HMCTS will consider your form and send you a response, along with copies of the evidence they have received and a date for a hearing if applicable.
You’ll be asked if you want to attend the hearing, which will enable the tribunal to ask you questions before they make a decision. If you feel as though you can, then going to this is usually a good idea, as it’s likely to strengthen your case. If you prefer, your hearing may be online or over the phone.
You can take a friend or family member to the hearing for support if you like. You can also claim back travel expenses and pay you might have missed out on by attending. Your nearest Citizens Advice may also offer you free representation at the hearing if you feel as though this would be beneficial.
You will usually get an answer to your case on the day of the hearing if you have one. If it takes longer to decide the result, you will receive an answer by post.
If you don’t have a hearing, a decision will be made based on your appeal form and evidence, and an answer will be sent to you by post.