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Challenging a decision

You can challenge a decision about your benefit if you think it is wrong.

For example, you may feel you should be entitled to a disability benefit but have received a decision advising that you do not qualify.

Two-step challenge process

Most benefit decisions are made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Challenging a DWP benefit decision involves the following steps:

  1. mandatory reconsideration
  2. appeal

Two-step challenge process

  1. mandatory reconsideration
  2. appeal

Mandatory reconsideration

Before you are able to appeal a benefit decision you must ask the DWP, who made the decision, to look at the decision again. This is called ‘mandatory reconsideration.’

You have one month from the date of the decision that you disagree with to ask for a mandatory reconsideration.

The DWP will look at the decision again following your request and you will be sent out a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice advising you of whether the decision has been changed or remains the same.

While there is a strict one-month time limit for you to request a mandatory reconsideration there is no time limit for when the DWP need to make a new decision and therefore you can wait a long time, often more than six weeks.

If you are still unhappy following the outcome of your mandatory reconsideration you can then appeal the decision. 


You must appeal directly to the HM Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) within one month of getting your mandatory reconsideration outcome decision. You can do this online by visiting the DWP website.

If you are appealing an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Universal Credit (UC) decision there is a form called an SSCS1 PE form that you need to fill out.

If you appeal after the one month has passed you will have to provide a reason why the appeal is being submitted late and the tribunal can refuse to accept a late appeal.

After you submit your appeal you will wait for your appeal to be heard via a hearing at your local Appeals venue.

What happens with payment of my benefit?

Generally, if you are asking for a reconsideration or appealing a decision about a benefit claim that has been refused then you will not be paid any benefit until the outcome of the appeal has been decided.

If you have been awarded a DWP benefit at a reduced rate and are asking for a mandatory reconsideration because you think you are entitled to a higher rate, the benefit will continue to be paid at the reduced rate until the outcome has been decided at the appeal.

What about benefit decisions made by other departments?

You may be unhappy with a benefit decision made by a department other than the DWP such as the Scottish Social Security Agency (SSSA), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or the council. The process to challenge can vary depending on what you are challenging and who made the decision. For example, when challenging a benefit decision made by the SSSA you need to ask for a 're-determination' and not a 'mandatory reconsideration.'

To find out more about challenging a tax credit decision visit HMRC's website.

Not all benefit decisions can be appealed.

Your decision letter should tell you about your right to challenge the decision and should advised you on how to do this but if you are unsure then please contact us for advice using the contact details on this page.

Can I get help to challenge a decision?

If you require assistance with requesting a mandatory reconsideration or need help with lodging your appeal the Tackling Poverty Team can assist you with this.

The team have specially trained staff who can support you through the appeals process and provide representation at the appeal hearing if necessary.

Page last updated:
15 Sep 2022

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