How do I raise an appeal against a decision made by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in relation to my benefits?
How long do I have to raise an appeal?
Can I have representation or an advisor at my appeal hearing?
Can I get Employment Support Allowance (ESA) while I wait for my appeal hearing?
Am I entitled to working tax credits?
Can my benefits be backdated?
What if I have been overpaid benefits?
I am not a UK citizen, can I claim benefits?
1. How do I raise an appeal against a decision made by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in relation to my benefits?
To appeal decisions made after 28 October 2013, you must first contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in writing or by telephone to ask them to explain the decision you disagree with. You can ask for a “written statement of reasons” to be sent to you, detailing the reasons for the decision.
Secondly, you must ask for the decision to be reconsidered: this is called a “mandatory reconsideration.” At this stage, you should explain why you think the decision is wrong and show any evidence you have to support this. The DWP will then send you two copies of the “mandatory decision notice” which will explain their reasons for changing or not changing the decisions. If they decide not to change the decision, or to change only part of it, they will phone you to explain.
Finally, if you are still unhappy with the decision, you can appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal, by completing Form SSCS1 which is available to download from http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/forms/tribunals/sscs/sscs1.pdf ). You should send the completed form together with one copy of your “mandatory decision notice” to the address on the form. The tribunal will then advise you on whether or not they can deal with your case, and how to proceed.
2. How long do I have to raise an appeal?
As stated above, you need to ask for permission to appeal by firstly asking for a mandatory reconsideration. You have one month from the date of the original judgment to do so.
In exceptional circumstances, you may be allowed to submit an appeal up to 13 months after the decision was made, however, you will be required to provide evidence of these circumstances (such as illness, bereavement, or being outside the UK at the time).
3. Can I have representation or an advisor at my appeal hearing?
Yes, you can take a representative to your hearing; you should advise the tribunal of the name of your representative (or your representative may do this for you), in advance of your hearing.
You cannot receive ESA during the mandatory reconsideration period (as above), but you can be paid ESA while you are appealing to the Tribunal, if your claim was disallowed under the work capability assessment. This gap in ESA payment during the mandatory reconsideration period cannot be avoided. However, at this stage you may be entitled to other benefits instead.
Working tax credits are for people on a low income. To be eligible you must be over 16 and ordinarily live in the UK. You can make an individual claim or a joint claim with your partner, or spouse. To receive working tax credits, you must be in paid employment, or starting paid employment within 7 days of making your claim. For an individual claim, you must work 16+ hours per week, and for a joint claim you and your partner must collectively work 24+ hours per week, with at least one of you working 16+ hours per week.
Your JSA is calculated according to your household income; this includes the income of your spouse, partner, or cohabitant, and any (single or joint) pensions, earnings, and savings of more than £6,000. To qualify for JSA, you (and your partner) must usually work less than 24 hours a week and must have £16,000 or less in savings.
ESA can be backdated for up to three months before the date of your claim, and should explain when you first make your claim that you want to claim backdated benefit and give the date you became entitled to ESA. You do not need to provide a reason for making your claim later than you could have done.
By contrast, if you want to claim backdated Jobseekers’ Allowance, you have to have particular reasons such as having language difficulties, or having been given wrong advice which made you think you weren’t entitled to any money. These decisions have to be accepted by the Jobcentre Plus, and you will not get any backdated benefit just because you did not know that you could make a claim, or you put off doing so.
If your reasons for a late claim are accepted, your Jobseekers’ Allowance may be backdated by a maximum of three months, depending on the reason you failed to claim earlier, and provided you met the entitlement conditions throughout the period of backdating. You will have to explain why you are claiming backdated Jobseekers’ Allowance on your claim form.
If you know, or believe, that you have been overpaid benefits, or if your circumstances change, you have a duty to tell the provider of your benefits (generally the Jobcentre Plus). In certain circumstances, you may face a civil penalty or prosecution if you knowingly took benefits you were not entitled to. If the benefit provider has made a mistake in calculating your entitlement, they will usually get in touch with you to inform you of this.
You will be required to pay back any overpaid benefits, in either of the situations set out above. This will usually be paid back by in instalments deducted from the benefits you continue to receive.
If you are from a country in the European Economic Area (EEA), you have the right not to be treated differently from a British citizen. However, this does not mean that you are automatically entitled to claim benefits.
If you have never worked in the UK, you will not be able to claim:
- Income Support,
- Income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance,
- Child Benefit,
- Housing Benefit,
- Council Tax Reduction.
If you are from an EEA country and worked in the UK before becoming unemployed, you may be able to claim benefits while you look for a new job. However, the rules and conditions for claiming benefits in this situation are complicated and you would be advised to seek advice in relation to making your claim.
Non-EEA citizens are not entitled to access public funds, including benefits.