Challenging a universal credit decision


How to appeal to a tribunal

When you can appeal to a tribunal

You can appeal to a tribunal if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) haven’t changed their decision after you’ve asked for review.

The tribunal is not part of the DWP and decisions are made by an independent panel including a judge.

You usually need to apply to a tribunal within 1 month of receiving a mandatory reconsideration notice.

If you miss the deadline

You can still ask for a tribunal hearing within 13 months of receiving a mandatory reconsideration notice if you have a good reason for missing the 1-month deadline.

This could be because you were:

  • in hospital
  • given the wrong information about how to appeal
  • out of the country
  • in need of an interpreter to understand a decision

The tribunal will allow you to make your appeal if it thinks you have a good reason.

How to start a tribunal appeal

You need to complete a SSCS1 form.

You can fill this in on a computer or print off a copy and complete it by hand.

You need to include:

  • your name, address and contact details
  • your National Insurance number
  • details of the decision you disagree with
  • why you disagree with the decision
  • the reason why your appeal is late, if it’s after the 1-month deadline

You should provide as much detail as you can about why you are appealing and why you think the decision is wrong.

You must also include a copy of the mandatory reconsideration notice. The DWP should provide any evidence you have sent to them to the tribunal.

If you need help or advice completing the form:

Search for your nearest Citizens Advice service

Decide if you want to attend the hearing

It is usually better to attend the hearing if you’re able to.

You can explain your case to the panel, provide them with additional evidence and answer any questions they may have.

Use the SSCS1 form to tell the tribunal:

  • any days or times when you cannot attend
  • if you require an interpreter or signer
  • any additional needs you may have, for example, disability access

You can bring a friend, family member or adviser with you for support.

You may be able to claim some reasonable expenses such as travel or childcare costs.

If you’re unable to attend a hearing, you can ask for the panel to decide your appeal based on the information you have provided.

After you’ve submitted your appeal

The tribunal will send you a letter when they have received your appeal.

The tribunal will ask the DWP for a response. When they receive this, they will write to you and tell you when and where the hearing will be.  You will also be sent a copy of the DWP’s response.

You will usually get at least 2 weeks’ notice of your hearing date.

When the tribunal decide

You will usually get a decision on the day if you’ve chosen to attend the hearing.

If the panel need more time or you didn’t attend the hearing, they will write to you with their decision.

If you win your appeal, your benefit would normally be backdated to the date of the decision about which your appealing.

You can appeal to an upper tribunal if you lose your appeal. Information on how to do this will be included in their decision letter.

If you appeal to an upper tribunal, you may be able to receive legal aid.

Find out more about legal aid and free legal advice


Last updated 13 Dec 2018 | © Shelter

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