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Clients often come to Citizens Advice when their benefit claim is turned down or has been changed. Often this is for disability benefits such as PIP, DLA or Employment and Support Allowance, but it could be for another benefit such as Job Seekers Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Carers Allowance, Universal Credit and many more – for a list of the benefits which can be challenged see: https://www.gov.uk/mandatory-reconsideration
What can you do?
Your letter will tell you that you can ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) and you must do this before you take any other action. There is a deadline to ask, usually one month from the date of the decision. If you have a good reason for missing the date, you can still ask up to 13 months after the date, BUT it needs to be a reason such as being in hospital or a bereavement.
How to do this?
You can phone, write a letter or use the online form (which will need printing and sending after filling in https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/challenge-a-decision-made-by-the-department-for-work-and-pensions-dwp). In all cases you will need to say WHY you disagree with the original decision. If you are very near the deadline it is best to phone and then send the form or letter if you need time to get help to explain why you disagree. The letter you’ll have received from the DWP should explain the reasons for turning you down, so go through this line by line and write down what you believe has been wrongly decided.
If you haven’t received written statement of reasons, you can request these, but this must be done by phone.
How long does an MR take?
The DWP doesn’t give a timeline, but usually at least 14 days, often longer. If your benefit is now granted, it will be backdated to the original date.
What can I do if I am turned down again?
You will receive 2 MR notices – one to keep and one to send in IF you decide to challenge this new decision by starting an appeal. You should have information with the letter telling you how to do this.
Is it worth my while challenging a benefits decision?
In many cases the original decision is overturned, if you have good reason to challenge it. This does not always happen at the MR stage, but at the Appeals stage and you are more likely to have it overturned if you attend that in person.
For more information about MRs and Appeals, see: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/benefits-introduction/problems-with-benefits-and-tax-credits/challenging-a-benefit-decision/challenging-a-dwp-benefit-decision-on-or-after-28-october-2013/challenging-a-benefit-or-tax-credit-decision-asking-for-a-reconsideration/
If you need help, Citizens Advice can help, but it is best to contact your local office as soon as possible as you may have to wait a couple of weeks for an appointment.