Appealing a benefit decision
Appealing a benefit decision
When you've applied for housing benefit or council tax support, we send you a decision letter. This tells you if you qualify for any benefit. It tells you how we've worked out what you're entitled to.
If you want more information about the decision, get in touch straight away. We'll send you a Statement of Reasons. This is a letter explaining how and why we've made the decision.
You must get in touch within one month of receiving your decision letter.
If you don't, we might not be able to look at the decision again, if you think it is wrong.
What if I still disagree?
You can ask us to look at the decision again.
You can appeal against the decision.
You need to do this within one month of receiving your original decision letter.
If you asked for a Statement of Reasons, we can extend the month period by the time it took us to send this to you.
Looking at the decision again
We will check that the decision is correct. This will be done by a different member of staff.
If the decision is wrong
If the decision is wrong, we will change it.
If you asked us within the required timescales, we will change the decision from the date of the original decision.
If you asked us outside of the required timescales, we will only change the decision from the date you asked us.
We will send you a letter telling you what the new decision is.
If the decision is right
If the decision can’t be changed we will send you a letter telling you we cannot change it. The letter will tell you if you can appeal against the decision.
If you can appeal, you only have one month to do so, starting from the date of the letter we send.
The Tribunal Service only accepts late appeals if there are special circumstances which caused the delay, such as:
- A death
- Serious illness
- Absence abroad
- Postal strike
When you fill in the appeal form, you’ll need to explain why you could not appeal within one month. A qualified tribunal member will look at your reasons and decide if your appeal can be accepted.
Appeals made 13 months or more after the date on the decision letter will not be accepted.
The Tribunal Service
The Tribunal Service decides your Housing Benefit appeal. The Tribunal Service is independent of the Council.
The Valuation Office Tribunal decides your Council Tax Support appeal.
Tribunal members are experts on the issues involved in your appeal. They look at the evidence, the law and your circumstances at the time we made the decision you are appealing against.
You will be asked if you would like either an oral hearing or a paper hearing.
Remember, the appeal works both ways. If it finds that you have been getting too much money, your benefit will be reduced.
The appeal decision
You will get a decision notice explaining the tribunal’s decision as soon as possible after the hearing. We will also receive a copy.
If your appeal is successful, we will usually put the decision right as soon as we receive our copy of the decision.
You can ask for a statement of reasons. This is an explanation of the tribunal’s decision, including the facts and the law used. You need to ask for the Statement within one month of the date you receive the decision notice.
If you still disagree with the decision, you can appeal to the Upper Tier Tribunal. The Council can also appeal if it disagrees.
The Upper Tier Tribunal
The judges in an Upper Tier Tribunal are independent of both the Council, and the Department of Social Security. Appeals can be made by:
- Anyone who has already appealed to the Tribunal Service
- The Local Authority
- The Department of Social Security
- Appeals can only be made on points of law
- You can’t appeal about facts, findings or conclusions
- You can only appeal if you have first had a statement of reasons for the previous tribunal’s decision
- You must apply for leave to appeal within one month of receiving your statement of reasons
A qualified tribunal member will decide if your appeal can be sent to the Upper Tier Tribunal.
These will only be accepted if there are special circumstances that caused the delay. You will need to show why you couldn’t make your request on time.