Help with benefit appeals

2. How to challenge a decision

For most benefits there is a two stage process for challenging the decision.

Slightly different rules apply to Housing Benefit appeals and Council Tax Support appeals.

Stage 1 - Mandatory reconsideration

After your decision from the Department for Work and Pensions you have one month to ask them to reassess. This is called a mandatory reconsideration. You can do this by phone, or in writing.

The time limit for requesting a mandatory reconsideration can be extended by 14 days. This is if you ask for written reasons for the decision and your decision letter does not already include the written reasons.

The rules for challenging tax credit decisions are slightly different. You must put your request in writing and you have 30 days to get the request to HMRC. To ensure that your request is dealt with properly it is preferable to use the WTC/AP form which is available from GOV.UK.

There are no set guidelines as to how long it should take for the mandatory reconsideration to be carried out. However there is no reason why it should take too long.

Stage 2 - Appeal

You cannot appeal until you have the written decision following the mandatory reconsideration. You then have another month from the date on the letter to send in an appeal form direct to the Tribunals Service.

You can download the form from the GOV.UK website. For most benefits you need to complete form SSCS1, but for Tax Credit appeals you will need to complete form SSCS5.