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Resolving issues without the need for an appeal?

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Responding to written questions in parliament, Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey stated “Mandatory reconsideration will improve the disputes process and effectively shorten the journey for all DWP administered benefits, not just those referred to, by making sure that as many disputes are resolved without the need to appeal.”

The new system for a mandatory reconsideration has been introduced alongside the new benefits, Personal Independence Payment and Universal Credit. The aim is to give claimants and DWP a chance to resolve issues about benefit awards without the need for an appeal. But how in reality is this supposed to work?

The process now for a claimant who is unhappy with their benefit award decision is to send in a letter of appeal to the DWP to have their claim looked at again. If the DWP refuse to revise their decision, it is then sent to the Tribunal Service. However, in reality this whole process can take anything between one month and eighteen months before a final decision is made, during which claimants receive a reduced income and struggle to cope with the stress created.

The new process is aimed to simplify the system and begins with a claimant who is unhappy with their benefit award discussing their case with the DWP before it is appealed to the Tribunal Service. If a claimant still wishes to appeal after this process, then they must make an application directly to the Tribunal Service. The only advantage of this new system is that the DWP promises to respond to benefit cases within 28 calendar days as opposed to the 6 month delay nowadays.

As with any new changes, the Government is piloting this on a small scale with initial changes forming part of the dispute process for Personal Independence Payment and Universal Credit. If it is deemed a success, then the changes will be introduced for all other DWP administered benefits from 28th October 2013.

By solicitor, Ngaryan Li