Universal Credit (UC) - How do I challenge a Universal Credit (UC) decision?
Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit for people of working-age who are on a low income.
- Last reviewed 29 November 2023
How do I challenge a Universal Credit (UC) decision?
Disputes about income
If you think the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has used the wrong amount of income to decide how much Universal Credit to award you, you might need to raise what is called a Real Time Earnings (RTI) dispute. You can ask for this by leaving a note on your journal.
If you think a decision made about your Universal Credit (UC) entitlement is wrong, you can contact DWP and ask them to look at the decision again, explaining why you think it is wrong. This is called 'mandatory reconsideration'.
The best way to request mandatory reconsideration of a decision is to write a message in your journal saying that you want a mandatory reconsideration of the decision and explaining why you think the decision is wrong. It can take a long time for messages in the journal to be read, so you should also phone the Universal Credit helpline to tell them that you are asking for a mandatory reconsideration.
If your claim has been closed, you will not be able to leave messages in your journal. If you want to challenge a decision on a closed claim (including the decision to close the claim), you will need to call the DWP helpline 0800 328 5644 and ask for the address to which to send your written request for mandatory reconsideration. You can use the Challenge a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions form to complete your request. Make sure you keep a copy of the form you send.
You should ask for mandatory reconsideration within a month of the original decision. If you have missed this deadline, you should still ask for mandatory reconsideration. If the DWP say you have missed the deadline and they will not reconsider their decision, you should speak to an adviser.
You will receive a 'mandatory reconsideration notice' in response. The decision may be changed or you may receive an explanation of why it remains the same.
If you still think the decision is wrong after receiving the mandatory reconsideration notice, you can make an appeal to a tribunal. This means that someone independent of the DWP will look at the decision and if they think it is wrong they can change it.
You can make an appeal to the tribunal by completing a 'Notice of appeal against a decision of the Department for Work and Pensions' form online, or using a paper form (there is a different form if you live in Northern Ireland). You will be expected to have followed the mandatory reconsideration process before appealing. You might be asked for the mandatory reconsideration notice.
You have one month from the date of the mandatory reconsideration notice to submit your appeal. If you have missed this deadline, you can still appeal but you will need to explain why your appeal is late. There is a risk that it might not be allowed to go ahead.
Some mandatory reconsideration notices for decisions on Universal Credit aren’t dated and this can cause problems with HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) (the organisation that manages appeals). If you have problems with this, you should speak to an adviser or to your MP.
If your Universal Credit account has been closed, you might have difficulty getting a copy of your mandatory reconsideration notice. You should ask your local Jobcentre to give you a copy of the mandatory reconsideration notice. If your Jobcentre can’t help, you should speak to an adviser or complain to your MP.
If you do want to challenge a decision, you can get help with this by contacting a benefits adviser. Use our Find an Adviser tool to locate one in your area.