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How to Challenge a Benefit Decision

If you disagree with a decision the Department for Work and Pensions has made, you have two chances to challenge it. First, you can ask the DWP to look at their decision again; this is called a mandatory reconsideration. If the DWP don't change their decision, or you're still not happy with the decision, you can then ask the decision to be independently assessed by a tribunal; this is called an appeal. 

It's important to note that at both the MR and appeal stages, the decision can be changed to make it either more or less favorable. This means that if you're challenging a decision for a benefit which is assessed via a points system, such as PIP or ESA, this can lead to you being awarded fewer points. In these cases it would be beneficial to contact us for advice via the details below. 

Mandatory Reconsideration

Once you receive your decision letter from the DWP, you have one month to ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration. However, the DWP will generally accept a late MR request if you explain why it is late. 

You can ask for an MR over the phone or in writing, however sending a written MR gives you more chance to explain your reasons and send any further evidence if you have it. To send a written MR print off this form and post it to the address on the top of your decision letter. 

If you're challenging a PIP or ESA decision, you can request a copy of the full report from your face-to-face assessment. This gives more detail about what the assessor observed and how the decision was made. When writing your MR you should go through the report, make a note of anything you disagree with and explain how you find the activity.


In the medical report it says that I managed to walk 25 metres to the assessment room without difficulty. This is not the case. I was leaning on my daughter to walk to the room as it takes some of the weight off my knees and reduces the pain. I walked very slowly, as I always do, and I stopped once to alleviate the pain for around 30 seconds. 

You can also send any medical evidence which you didn't include in your claim form. See here for guidance on what medical evidence you could send.  

You will then receive a new decision letter which will tell you whether the DWP have changed their decision. 


If the DWP does not change their decision following your MR, you can ask for the decision to be independently assessed by a tribunal. 


The first step is to lodge your appeal. You can do this via the online system, or you can print off a form called an SSCS1 to fill in and send to the relevant department (PIP, ESA or Universal Credit). You don't have to go into lots of detail when logging the appeal, as you can send more information and evidence in at a later date.


I do not feel the decision maker has taken into consideration the extent to which my health condition affects my ability to prepare food, wash or bathe, get dressed and undressed and move around. 

You will be asked whether you want to attend the hearing in person. Generally it is better to attend your hearing as it allows the tribunal to see how you are in person. You will also be asked whether you want a representative; if you think you will need help with your appeal, you can get in touch with our benefits team via the contact details below as we may be able to represent you. This usually involves preparing a written submission to the tribunal and attending your hearing. 

Once you have logged your appeal, you will have to wait to be given a date for your tribunal hearing. Unfortunately this can take a long time; members we have supported have waited over 12 months for a hearing. If you find yourself in financial difficulty while waiting for a hearing, you can get in touch with our benefits team via the contact details below for a benefits check to make sure you are claiming everything you are entitled to. 

For more information, or for help claiming benefits, please get in touch with our benefits team. We provide initial information and advice to everyone. We provide members of the Sheffield ME and Fibromyalgia Group with more detailed advice, casework and representation. 


Tel: +44 114 253 6700

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