Appeal against a benefits decision

Once we work out your benefit, we will send you letters telling you how we worked out your claim.

Making an appeal

If you do not agree with the decision, you can:

  • ask us for a written explanation of how we assessed your benefit entitlement
  • ask us to look at the decision again
  • appeal against the decision to an independent tribunal.

You can only ask for any of these things if you are the person affected by the decision, and you must do this within one calendar month from the date of our decision.

For a quick guide to the appeals process, please download our  benefits appeals process chart (PDF 174 KB).

More information

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  • Ask for a written explanation

    A written explanation of the reasons for our decision provides you with more detail about the rules we followed when we made the decision.

    Time limit

    • You must ask for a written statement of reasons within one month of the date of the decision.

      Other rules

    • You must ask for the statement in writing and you must sign the request. This means that you cannot send your request by email.
    • You can only ask for a written statement if you are the person affected by the decision.

    How long will it take?

    • We will try to send your statement within one month of receiving your request.
  • Ask us to look at the decision again

    If you don’t agree with the way we worked out your benefit, you can ask us to look at it again. This is also known as a ‘reconsideration’.

    A different officer to the one who made the original decision will review your claim. If the original decision is wrong, we will change it.

    Time limit

    • You must ask us to review our decision within one month of the date of the original decision.
    • If you asked for a written statement (above), this time will be extended. The written statement of reasons will tell you the deadline for asking us to look at the decision again.
    • If you can’t meet this time limit, we may be able to extend it by up to 12 months. If you are making your request late, you must also tell us why it is late.

    Other rules

    • You must ask us to review our decision in writing and tell us what you disagree with and why. If you have evidence to support your reasons, please include it with your request for a review.
    • You can only ask for a written statement if you are the person affected by the decision.

    How long will it take?

    • We will try to review the decision within one month of receiving your request.
    • It may take longer if we need you to provide extra information.

    What happens if the decision can be changed?

    • We will normally change the decision from the date of the original decision.
    • We will send you a letter explaining the new decision.
    • If you do not agree with the new decision, you can ask us to review it again.

    What happens if the decision cannot be changed?

    • We will send you a letter explaining why we think the original decision is correct.
    • You can still appeal against it to an independent tribunal (below).
    • If you want to appeal, you have one month from the date of the new letter confirming our decision. 
  • Ask for an independent tribunal to look at the decision

    If you do not agree with the way your benefit is worked out, you can ask for an independent tribunal to review it. This is also called an appeal.

    Independent tribunals are managed by the Courts and Tribunals Service. For more information please visit the Ministry of Justice on GOV.UK

    Time limit

    • You must ask us to review our decision within one month of the date of the original decision.
    • If you asked for a written statement (above), this time will be extended. The written statement of reasons will tell you the deadline for asking us to look at the decision again.
    • If you can’t meet this time limit, the independent tribunal may be able to extend it by up to 12 months. If you are making your appeal late, you must also tell us why it is late.

    Other rules

    • You must appeal in writing and you must sign it. This means that you cannot send your request by email.
    • You can only appeal if you are the person affected by the decision.
    • In your appeal, you must identify the decision you think is wrong.
    • You must include the reasons that you think the decision is wrong.

    How long will it take?

    • The whole appeal process usually takes three to eight months.
    • We will try to prepare your appeal for the tribunal within one month.

    What happens after I send you my appeal?

    We will look at our decision again.

    • If we can change the decision, and the new decision is better for you, your appeal will stop.
    • If we can’t change the decision, or if a new decision is no better for you, your appeal will continue.
    • If your appeal continues, we will send your appeal and our responses to the Courts and Tribunals Service. We will also send copies to you and your representative if you have one.
    • When the Courts and Tribunals Service receives your appeal and our response, they will send you an enquiry form.
    • You must read the enquiry form carefully, answer all the questions and send it back to the Courts and Tribunals Service. If you do not, your appeal will stop.
    • The enquiry form will ask if you would like to attend the hearing to provide verbal evidence. If you do not want to attend the hearing, your appeal will be looked at based on the reasons you gave in your letters.

    If the Courts and Tribunals Service accept your appeal, they will let you know the date and place of the hearing. For Dacorum, appeals are normally held in Watford.

    What happens at the tribunal?

    Normally, one person will hear your appeal. This person will be a qualified lawyer who specialises in Housing Benefit law and they will not work at Dacorum Borough Council. The tribunal may also include another person with financial qualifications.

    If you go to the hearing, you may be asked questions. You will also be able to ask questions. If you prefer, you can take someone with you to help you. A person from the Council may also be present.

    If you want to go to the hearing but you can’t, you must tell the Courts and Tribunals Service straight away. If you don’t, your appeal may be heard without you.

    If you have asked for a paper hearing, you will not be asked to attend.

    How do I find out the results?

    You will be sent a written statement explaining the tribunal’s decision.

    A copy will also be sent to the Council.

    What if I disagree with the tribunal’s decision?

    You may be able to appeal to the Upper Tribunal. But, you can only appeal to the Upper Tribunal on a point of law.

    Your decision notice will tell you what to do if you are unhappy with their decision.

  • What do you mean by a ‘person affected by a decision’?

    You are a person affected by a decision if you are:

    • the benefit claimant
    • a person we have appointed to act on behalf of the benefit claimant.

    If you are a landlord, you are a person affected by a decision if:

    • there is a recoverable overpayment which can be recovered from you
    • it was decided not to pay Housing Benefit directly to you.

    Recoverable overpayments

    We can recover some benefit overpayments from a landlord rather than a benefits claimant.

    For example, if you knew that your tenant had moved out but you didn’t tell us and you continued to receive Housing Benefit for them, you (the landlord) would have to pay back the money.