Appeals Process Changed For Benefits and Child Maintenance

Published: 2nd October 2013

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 is set to change the way people can appeal against decisions made on benefits and child maintenance. These changes come into effect from 28th October 2013.

At present, any appeal against a benefit or child maintenance decision is lodged with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who then refer the appeal to the HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS). From 28th October 2013, all appeals will undergo a 'mandatory reconsideration' by the DWP before the appeal is referred to the HMCTS.

The purpose of this change is to help speed up the appeals process and reduce the administrative burden on the DWP.

The DWP explains, "The change aims to make sure that people understand the decision and encourage them to provide additional evidence earlier in the process. Resolving disputes without the need for an appeal should also help make sure that people receive the right decision earlier in the process."

"If someone disagrees with a decision, the decision maker will phone them. The new call will be an opportunity for them to talk it through. During the call, they will receive a full explanation of the decision and be asked to provide any additional evidence that may help their case."

Following a 'mandatory reconsideration', if a claimant still disputes the final outcome then they must appeal directly to the HMCTS. The process, known as 'direct lodgement', ensures that social security and child maintenance appeals are brought in line with the other issues that the HMCTS currently deals with. A new time limit has also been applied which will ensure that the DWP respond to all benefits claims within 28 days and all child maintenance claims within 42 days.

For more information about appealing a benefit or child maintenance decision, visit www.gov.uk/appeal-benefit or www.gov.uk/child-maintenance/appeal-a-decision.

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