Mandatory Reconsideration: Maximise the Chance of Changing a Decision
By Julie Holdcroft, Welfare Benefits Advisor, Stoke North & Staffordshire Citizens Advice Bureau
If you get a decision from the DWP that you think is incorrect, you have the right to ask the DWP to reconsider this decision. This is called a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR).
Under normal rules you have a calendar month from the date of the decision to submit this request over the phone, or ideally in writing. If there is a good reason why it was not possible to submit this request within a month, then a late request can be made but ‘good cause’ for the delay must be accepted by the DWP. Good cause could be the claimant was ill or has a specific vulnerability that meant that they needed help to submit an MR request (if the DWP don’t accept good cause, they still have to issue an appealable decision and you can then appeal to a Tribunal who can consider the case).
Currently only 15% of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) MRs change a decision. To maximise the chance of success at MR, you need to know how the Decision Maker came to their decision. This could mean that you need to request or a copy of an Assessors Report if you have recently had a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) or PIP Assessment. However for disability and sickness benefits, the reasons for the decision are usually within the decision letter itself (a copy and paste from the Assessor’s report). If there was little evidence previously submitted to support a claim, then you may need to give the new Decision Maker additional evidence to consider. This may be specific medical evidence if you are challenging a decision about how your health issues impacts you on most days, and/or a copy of a Professional’s Risk Assessment if you have complex needs. For a Decision Maker to change one of their colleague’s decisions they need to show that their colleague was not aware of something relevant at the time.
If you can specify the points you feel a decision maker should have awarded this can also help the chances of a successful MR. A Benefits Advisor or the Citizens Advice website may help you to identify the points that apply to your customer and help you explain how any additional evidence can support your argument.
Over recent months the wait for a Mandatory Reconsideration decision has increased dramatically, especially for PIP, which now has an average wait of 69 days for an MR decision to be made. So making efforts to help the chances of an MR being successful become even more important, as the wait for the next stage (where your case is heard at appeal by an Independent Tribunal) is considerably longer (over 12 months for PIP at present in North Staffs). Where there is a severe risk to the health or home of a claimant waiting for a Tribunal date, you can apply to have the date expedited.