Havering Welfare Benefits Adviser Lorraine Moss today writes in the Havering Daily.
If your application is refused and you disagree with the decision, you can submit an appeal.
The first step is that you must request a Mandatory Reconsideration and this must be done within a month of receiving the decision. The DWP will look at your application again and then give you a formal response. You can submit a Mandatory reconsideration by using the CRMR1 form which you can download here Challenge a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). Alternatively, you can write a letter.
Please see below, this is information on what to include of your form/letter and is from The Citizens Advice website Challenging an Attendance Allowance decision – mandatory reconsideration – Citizens Advice ;
What to put in the form or letter:
You need to write the reasons specific to your condition and why you disagree with the decision.
Look at your decision letter. It will tell you the reasons why the DWP made the decision. Make a note of the statements you disagree with and why you disagree.
Your decision letter might not give much information about why you’ve been turned down.
In your form or letter, give facts, examples and medical evidence (if available) to support what you’re saying. Make sure you use the same words that they use in the decision letter.
Below is an example of what a reconsideration request form or letter might say. Every reconsideration request form or letter will be different – yours needs to contain examples that are specific to your needs.
Your letter says I’m not entitled to AA because I don’t need continual supervision to avoid substantial danger to myself or others. This is incorrect. When I’m at home I need other people to be with me at all times because I can fall and hurt myself when no one is there to watch me. In the past I have knocked heavy things off shelves and hit my head on furniture when I have fallen. This situation could cause injury and is a substantial danger. I need continual supervision to avoid danger to myself.
If you need help with filling in the form or writing your letter, contact your nearest Citizens Advice. Try to get in touch straight away – you might have to wait for an appointment and you only have 1 month to send your letter in.
Talk to your nearest Citizens Advice if your application is rejected because of lateness.
If you call the DWP to ask for mandatory reconsideration
It’s best to use the form or write to the DWP to ask for a mandatory reconsideration. If you call them, they might want to speak to you about your decision before they look at it again. They’ll call you back to tell you why your claim was refused. They’ll usually do this within 24 hours of your call.
Tell them you don’t agree with their decision so you want a mandatory reconsideration. You need to give your evidence to explain why you disagree with the decision, so make sure you’ve got it ready.
Make sure you tell the DWP if you often need:● help with personal care during the day or night, or both● someone to look after you during the day to make sure you’re safe● someone to wake up during the night to watch over you and make sure you’re safe
You should also tell the DWP if you forgot to write something in your claim form or want to explain something in more detail. It’s important to do this because the DWP will look at your AA decision again while they’re on the phone with you.
They’ll tell you if they think you should get AA when you speak to them – you won’t have to wait for a letter. You should make a note of what you talked about to help you remember what was said.
If the DWP don’t change their decision and you still think you should get AA, you’ll need to apply for a mandatory reconsideration. Make sure you tell the person on the phone that you’re going to do this. You’ll need to follow the normal mandatory reconsideration process.
If your Mandatory Reconsideration is refused, you can then submit an appeal to the tribunal. You must do this within one month of the Mandatory Reconsideration decision and include a copy of the Mandatory Reconsideration letter. You will need to complete the SSCS1 form please see Form SSCS1: Appeal a social security benefits decision (Notice of appeal) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
When you can appeal to a tribunal (Source Citizens Advice Bureau Website Challenging an Attendance Allowance decision – appealing the decision – Citizens Advice
You can appeal against any decision made about your AA claim. Some of the most common reasons are:● you didn’t get awarded AA● you got a lower rate of AA than you expected
To appeal to a tribunal, you’ll need:● your letter from the DWP with the words ‘Mandatory Reconsideration Notice’ at the top – if you’ve lost it, ask them for a new one● to send your appeal form in within 1 month of the date shown on the mandatory reconsideration notice, the form must get to the tribunal within the 1 month
It’s worth appealing to a tribunal if you think their decision is wrong. The process can be draining but it’s worth remembering that many AA decisions are overturned by the tribunal.
Change of circumstances while appealing
The tribunal can’t consider whether your condition has got worse since the decision you’re challenging was made. If you were told you can’t get Attendance Allowance and your condition changes and you need more care or supervision, then you’ll have to make a new claim (you can still continue with your appeal as well).
Please be careful if you are submitting an appeal because you disagree with the rate of Attendance Allowance that you have been awarded. This could result in you losing your current award.
Explain why you’re appealing (From The Citizens Advice Bureau Website) Challenging an Attendance Allowance decision – appealing the decision – Citizens Advice
The most important part of the form is ‘Section 5: Grounds for appeal’. In this box you need to give the specific reasons why you disagree with the decision.
Use your decision letter and mandatory reconsideration notice to list each of the statements you disagree with and why. Give facts, examples and medical evidence (if you have any) to support what you’re saying.
You might have done this already when you wrote your mandatory reconsideration letter – if so, you can use the same examples and pieces of evidence again.
You can include all this information on a separate sheet if you’d prefer, just write ‘See enclosed information’ in the Section 5 box and attach any papers securely to the form.
Example of a Section 5 response
The DWP decision letter says I’m not entitled to AA because I don’t need continual supervision to avoid substantial damage to myself or others. This is incorrect. When I’m at home I need other people to be with me at all times because I can fall and hurt myself when no one is there to watch me. In the past I have knocked heavy things off shelves and hit my head on furniture when I have fallen. This situation could cause me substantial damage. I need continual supervision to avoid damage to myself.
If you’ve missed the appeal deadline
If you have missed the deadline, you can still send in the SSCS1 form up to 13 months after the date of the original decision. In Section 5 you’ll need to explain why it’s late (for example, if you were in hospital, you should explain that personal circumstances made it impossible to return the form in time).
Ask for a hearing in person
It’s always better to ask to attend the hearing in person (called an ‘oral hearing’). This may sound daunting but you can get someone to go with you for moral support. Having an oral hearing gives you more opportunities to put your case forward and a better chance of winning. You’ll be able to take your representative if you have one.
In Section 6, tick the box that says ‘I want to attend a hearing of my appeal’.
If you ask for the hearing to be done without you (called a ‘paper hearing’), you’ll miss out on being able to tell the tribunal about your condition in person. You have a much better chance of success if you go to a hearing in person.
Ask for what you need
In Section 7 of the form you can list the dates you’re not available, as well as anything you need for the hearing. It’s really important to think about anything that might stop you being able to go to the hearing and to write it down.
For example, you:● can only attend a hearing in the morning because your illness makes you tired in the afternoon● have holidays you’ve booked● have an important medical appointment
If you don’t mention these circumstances, and the hearing is booked for a date you’re not available, you might not be able to change it.
Write down details of any aids or help you’ll need, such as a sign language interpreter. Most tribunals will have wheelchair access, but it’s best to include all your access needs anyway.
Send the form
Send your documents to HM Courts and Tribunals Service, not to the DWP. The address is on the form. You should include the following:● the completed SSCS1 form● a copy of your mandatory reconsideration notice● any further evidence you have, although you can send this later if you need to
Post your appeal documents by recorded delivery if you can. Otherwise ask for proof of postage when posting the documents. This can help you later if the tribunal service says you didn’t meet the deadline or if the letter gets lost in the post.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service will check your form and then ask the DWP to give a written response within another 28 days.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service will then send you:● a copy of the DWP’s response and any evidence they’ve made their decision on (this is sometimes called the ‘bundle’) – it’s important to read through the response to understand the case that the DWP are making.● information about what happens next● details of when and where the hearing will be (if you’ve asked for an oral hearing, rather than a paper one)
If you need help with your appeal you can contact Havering Citizens Advice Bureau on 01708 763531 of Havering Peabody on 01708 776770.