Decisions about your benefit or tax credit claim will be made by:
Department for Work and Pensions (through Jobcentre Plus, Pensions Service or Disability and Carers Service);
HM Revenue and Customs; or
Local authority or council
Decisions are always sent to you by letter. The date at the top of the letter is your decision date. This is important for working out your time limit for taking action.
If you receive a decision letter and don't understand the decision or think the decision is wrong, you can ask for an explanation of the decision and/or try to get the decision changed.
Your options when you receive a benefit or tax credit decision
To find out more about your options, select the benefit the decision is about.
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
Local Authority (LA)
Benefit and Tax Credit Overpayments
We strongly recommend that anyone who has been told they have been overpaid benefits or tax credits should seek advice from a benefits or legal adviser.
See our Benefits Overpayments guide or Tax Credits Overpayments guide for information about overpayments, why they occur and the rules about when overpayments have to be repaid.
You may also be interested in the GOV.UK information on Benefit Overpayments
If you are facing an allegation of benefits or tax credit fraud, we strongly recommend that you seek advice from a benefits or legal adviser.
See our Fraud Investigations guide for information about the procedures around investigations of alleged benefits or tax credit fraud.
You may also be interested in the GOV.UK information on Benefit Fraud if you are in England, Scotland or Wales, or the NIDirect information on Benefit Fraud if you are in Northern Ireland.
Advice and Representation
You may be able to get help with challenging a benefit or tax credit decision from the following places:
Advice centres, such as your local Citizens Advice bureau, may be able to help you to prepare your case and possibly even represent you at the hearing. Our Find an Adviser tool can help you to find local advice centres
Civil Legal Advice has details of solicitors and other advisors, who may be able to assist you. You can phone them in England and Wales on 0845 345 4345 or in Scotland on 0131 226 7061. Or you can Textphone 0845 609 6677.
The Law Society also has a Find a Law Firm tool on its website.
Always check first to see whether you will be charged for the cost of using a solicitor. Certain tasks, such as representation at a tribunal hearing, may not be free, even if you are on a low income.
Complaints about your claim
You have the right to expect a reasonable standard of service from the people dealing with your benefit claim. Service includes things such as meeting target times for dealing with claims and providing interpretation facilities. You can make a complaint to the department or authority that dealt with your benefit claim if you are not happy with the standard of service you received.
See our guide Complaints about your claim for information on how to lodge a complaint.