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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 (ESA), 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 here
Certain benefits are NOT administered by the Department of Work and Pension (DWP). For those see the above link, at the bottom of that page. This article is ONLY about benefits administered by the DWP. There is a slightly different, but similar process for other benefits such as tax credits, child benefit and housing benefit. See our website for help disputing benefits which are not administered by the DWP.
How can you dispute a decision from the DWP?
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 you stand a better chance of your MR being accepted if you have a good reason for it being late, 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 all cases you will need to say WHY you disagree with the original decision.
If you are disputing a Universal Credit decision, you can use your journal to ask for mandatory reconsideration.
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. See our article for help on how to do this.
If you haven’t received a written statement of reasons for the decision, you can request it, but this should be done by phone.
How long does a MR take?
The DWP doesn’t give a timeline, but usually at least 14 days, often longer. If your benefit is then granted, it will be backdated to the date you originally applied.
What can I do if I am turned down again?
If the DWP won’t change their decision, they should send you two Mandatory Reconsideration notices – one to keep and one to use if you decide to challenge this refusal, 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?
Yes! If you think the decision is wrong, you should consider challenging it. In many cases the original decision is changed. This does not always happen at the MR stage, but decisions are often changed at the Appeal stage. You should also plan to attend your appeal hearing if possible, as this may increase the likelihood of your appeal being successful.
For more information about MRs and Appeals, see:
For help with this or other matters, please contact us via Advice line South on 03444 111 306 or pop in and see us.