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Challenging an Employment and Support Allowance Decision - Have the decision looked at again

If you think an Employment and Support Allowance decision is wrong, either because you have been refused it or have not been put in the support group, you may be able to: - Ask for an explanation - Have the decision looked at again - Appeal against the decision This guide takes you through these options.

Have the decision looked at again

You should ask the benefit office to look at the Employment and Support Allowance decision again if you think the decision is wrong.

This is known as a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ of the decision.


Write to the benefit office using the contact details on your decision letter and ask them to look at the decision again. You can use the Mandatory Reconsideration Request form to request a mandatory reconsideration or write a letter.

You should tell them in detail why you think the decision is wrong including any relevant dates.

You can attach copies of any relevant information, for example, any recent medical letters or other evidence you think may be relevant.

Obtaining medical evidence

You don't have to send in medical evidence but it can be extremely useful in supporting your challenge of the decision especially if it contradicts the medical assessment report produced by the healthcare professional.

Your evidence can be from doctors, consultants, community psychiatric nurses or any other health care professionals.

The evidence should focus on how you meet the criteria set out in the Work Capability Assessment

For example, if you are arguing against the medical assessor’s finding that you can walk more than 100 metres without discomfort, then ask your doctor to comment on this.

Try and speak to your health care professional to outline the difficulties you have with the activities and descriptors which apply to you.

If you have kept a diary of your difficulties you can give this to your doctor.  Alternatively, consider providing your doctor (or other professional) a brief summary of the activities you have problems with and the kinds of difficulties you have.

If you are unable to get medical evidence, you can ask the Tribunal Judge to obtain a copy of your medical records.


You should send the letter recorded delivery so there is a record of when it was sent and also keep a copy of the letter.

A different decision maker will look at the decision and decide whether it should be changed.

If you are asked for more information or evidence, you should provide this as soon as possible and let them know if there will be a delay.

Time limits

You have one month from the date on the decision letter to ask for the decision to be looked at again.

You may get longer if you ask for an explanation of the decision to be sent to you.

If you missed the deadline for reasons out of your control, such as illness or bereavement, you may still be able to have your decision looked at again.

When you contact the benefit office, you should explain why you missed the deadline.

Possible outcomes

When the decision has been looked at again you will be sent a mandatory reconsideration notice. Keep this safe as you will need it if you want to appeal.

If they decide the decision is wrong they will change the decision and send a new decision letter.

If they decide that they can’t change the decision they will write to you to confirm this and tell you if you have a right to appeal.

Benefits whilst having an ESA decision looked at again

Whilst your ESA decision is being reconsidered you cannot continue to receive ESA.

If you were getting Severe Disability Premium on your ESA, you can claim Jobseeker's Allowance or Income Support while you are waiting for the decision to be reconsidered. Claiming Jobseeker's Allowance or Income Support will not affect your entitlement to ESA. 

If you weren't getting Severe Disability Premium on your ESA, you may find you need to claim Universal Credit while you wait for your ESA decision to be reconsidered. If you claim Universal Credit you won't be able to go back onto ESA, even if the DWP does agree to change its decision. However, the decision that you aren't fit for work will carry over into your Universal Credit claim. Read about Universal Credit for people with disabilities and illnesses.


If you still think the decision is wrong:

You may be able to appeal against the decision find out more on the next page.


Updated June 2018

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