You usually have one month to challenge a housing benefit decision you don't agree with, but later requests can sometimes be accepted.
Reviewing your housing benefit decision
If you disagree with a council's decision about your housing benefit, you can ask it to reconsider the decision.
The council must look at its decision again to see if it should be changed.
Ask the council to reconsider your housing benefit if you think it has not assessed your claim correctly, for example, if you have three children but only two have been included in your assessment.
You can ask for the council to reconsider its decision if, for example, the housing benefit department:
- turns down your application or says you are no longer entitled to housing benefit
- says you must repay overpaid housing benefit
- refuses to pay your housing benefit directly to your landlord to help you budget
You can also request a review if you asked for your claim to be backdated but the council refused.
How to ask for a review
Put your request in writing. Explain why you think the decision is wrong. Include evidence to support your housing benefit request.
Take the letter and evidence to the council offices if possible. Get a receipt, including the date you handed in the information.
Use recorded delivery if you post the letter and keep a photocopy of what you sent.
You can either:
- request a review if you think the decision is wrong
- ask for a written statement of reasons if the letter doesn't explain things fully
The council should provide a written statement of reasons within 2 weeks if you ask for one. You then have a further month to ask for a review if you still disagree.
You can write to the council and ask for a late review after the 1-month time limit has passed.
The council will only extend the time limit if you:
- give reasons for the delay and have an arguable case
- couldn't apply earlier due to special circumstances, for example, a hospital stay
The longer you leave it, the more compelling the special circumstances must be.
The maximum time limit for a late request is 13 months from the date of the original decision.
If a late request is accepted by the council it counts as being made in time.
Any time reviews
You can ask for an 'any time' review if there has been an official error, for example, the council got the law wrong.
There is no time limit for an any time review.
You may need the help of a benefits adviser:
How the council reviews a decision
The council looks at the original decision to decide if it should be changed.
They may ask for further information and must consider any evidence you provide within a month of being asked for it.
The council writes to you with a review decision explaining:
- if and how your entitlement has changed
- whether you can appeal to a tribunal
If you're entitled to increased housing benefit payments, the council must backdate these to the date of the original decision as long as you asked for a review within time. You may get a lump-sum payment.
Appeal to a housing benefit tribunal
You can write to your council’s housing benefit office to ask for an appeal at a First-tier tribunal if, for example:
- the council doesn't change the decision on your housing benefit claim after you ask for a review
- instead of asking the council to reconsider its decision
You may have to use a special form from your council or you could send a letter. This will be forwarded to the tribunal with the council’s response.
You will be asked whether you want to attend your hearing in person. A judge will normally make a decision about your case on the day.
It can take between 3 and 8 months in total for your appeal to be decided at a First-tier tribunal.
Complain about a council's handling of your claim
Use your council's formal complaints process to complain if you are not satisfied with how the council manages your housing benefit affairs.
Your council's website explains how to make a complaint. Head to Gov.uk to find your local council's details.
Complain to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman if you're not satisfied with the response.
You can also complain to the Ombudsman if the council doesn't reply to your complaint after 12 weeks.
Last updated 26 Apr 2016 | © Shelter
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