Challenging an Employment and Support Allowance Decision - Appeal against the decision
This guide takes you through your options if you think an Employment and Support Allowance decision is wrong
Appeal against the decision
An appeal is a way of telling the benefit office that you think a decision is wrong.
When you appeal a decision, it will be looked at by an independent tribunal, which is separate from the benefit office. Many people need to ask for a mandatory reconsideration of the decision before they can make an appeal. However, some people can go straight to the appeals process. We have more information on mandatory reconsideration.
How do I appeal?
You must appeal in writing or using the HM Courts and Tribunals Service HMCTS online form. The HMCTS online service is not available for people living in Northern Ireland.
You must have asked for the decision to be looked at again and received the mandatory reconsideration notice first, unless you are exempt from the mandatory reconsideration process.
If you appeal on the official appeal form, this can help you to give all the information that is needed.
These leaflets tell you how to start your appeal:
- England, Scotland and Wales: ‘How to appeal against a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions (England, Scotland and Wales)'
- Northern Ireland: 'Guidance for completing your appeal form (Northern Ireland)' tell you how to start your appeal.
Download a copy of the appeal form:
Pick up a copy of the appeal form from your local Jobcentre, or
Write to HM Courts and Tribunals Service (see address below).
If you can't get hold of the official appeal form, make sure you include the following details in your letter:
Your name and contact address
A copy of the mandatory reconsideration notice
Why you think the decision is wrong
If you don't include all these details, your appeal form may have to be returned to you.
If you have lost the mandatory reconsideration notice, you can ask for a copy to be sent to you. You will have to do this before you can appeal. If this causes a delay in sending in your appeal request, you will need to explain the reasons for the delay. See information about late appeals below.
Send your appeal to:
England and Wales: HMCTS SSCS Appeals Centre, PO Box 12626, Harlow, CM20 9QF
Scotland: HMCTS SSCS Appeals Centre, PO Box 13150, Harlow, CM20 9TT .
Northern Ireland: The Appeals Service, PO Box 2202, Belfast, BT1 9YJ.
You have one calendar month from the date on the mandatory reconsideration notice.
If you missed the deadline for reasons out of your control, such as illness or bereavement, you may be given more time to appeal.
There is a section on the appeal form where you can give your reasons for it being late.
If the benefit office doesn’t think you have a good reason for appealing late, they will pass your request to the Tribunal Service who will decide if your appeal can be accepted or if it is too late to be heard.
An appeal can’t be accepted if it is over one year and 30 days since the date of the decision
Look again at the decision
If they haven’t already, a different decision maker will look at the decision and decide whether it should be changed.
If they decide that they can’t change the original decision, your appeal will carry on.
If they decide that the original decision is wrong, they will change the decision and send you a new decision letter:
If the new decision makes you better off your appeal will stop. You can appeal this new decision if you think it is wrong
If the new decision does not make you better off, your appeal will carry on but now it will be against the new decision.
Send appeal on to Tribunal Service
If your appeal carries on, your appeal form will be sent to HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), which runs the First Tier Tribunal. The benefit office will also include their response. This explains:
How they came to their decision
What information they used
What benefit law they based their decision on.
The First Tier Tribunal
The First Tier Tribunal will decide if you are legally entitled to a benefit and can change a decision if they think it is wrong.
The tribunal could make a decision that leaves you worse off so it is often best to seek advice before deciding whether to appeal.
The tribunal cannot:
Change the law
Deal with administrative complaints, such as delay or poor service (see Complaints about your claim)
Consider changes of circumstances which have taken place since the decision was made. You may be able to make a new benefit or tax credit claim.
For information about what happens when your appeal is received by the Tribunal Service (England, Scotland and Wales), or Appeals Service (Northern Ireland), see our First Tier Tribunal Appeals guide.
Benefits while appealing an ESA decision
If you appeal against an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA decision), you can ask to be paid ESA whilst you await the decision, (unless you went on to Universal Credit while you were waiting for your mandatory reconsideration decision). You don't need to make a fresh claim for ESA. You will be paid at the Assessment Phase rate while you are waiting for the Tribunal.
You must continue to provide medical certificates (fit notes) whilst you are getting ESA.
If you have backdated medical certificates (fit notes) to cover the mandatory reconsideration period, then ESA can now be paid for that period as well. This doesn't apply if you claimed another benefit such as Jobseeker's Allowance or Income Support during the reconsideration period so received an equivalent amount of benefit.
Reviewed: April 2022