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Mandatory reconsideration FAQs

Our mandatory reconsideration for ESA FAQs take you through the whole complex and deeply unfair process. To get more help with ESA claims and appeals, subscribe to Benefits and Work now and you can instantly download our highly detailed, step-by-step guides to ESA claims and appeals.

What is a mandatory reconsideration for ESA?esa mandatory reconsideration and appeals

Does mandatory reconsideration apply if I lodged my appeal before 28th October 2013?

How long do I have to request a mandatory reconsideration?

How do I ask for a mandatory reconsideration?

Will ESA be paid while a mandatory reconsideration takes place?

What other benefits can I still claim whilst the mandatory reconsideration is taking place?

How long does a mandatory reconsideration take?

Will the decision maker contact me during the mandatory reconsideration process?

Will a mandatory reconsideration decision be backdated?

How will I be told what the mandatory reconsideration decision is?

What do I do if I am not happy with the result of the mandatory reconsideration?

What is to stop me just lodging my appeal without asking for a mandatory reconsideration?

Where can I get help with a mandatory reconsideration?

What is a mandatory reconsideration for ESA?

In order to make it harder for claimants who have been found capable of work to challenge a decision about their ESA, mandatory reconsiderations are being introduced from 28th October 2013.

From that date, you will no longer be able to go straight to appeal and, if you have been found to be capable of work, you also will not be able to get any rate of ESA whilst the mandatory reconsideration is taking place. Instead, you will have to try to claim another benefit, such as jobseeker’s allowance or manage without an income replacement benefit at all.

In brief, the mandatory reconsideration is a process by which the decision you are unhappy with is looked at again, usually by a different decision maker. Once you receive the mandatory reconsideration notice, telling you whether the decision has been changed and, if so how, you can then appeal if you are still unhappy. At this point you will be able to go back onto the assessment phase rate of ESA. There’s more about all of this below. 
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Does mandatory reconsideration apply if I lodged my appeal before 28th October?

No, it doesn’t. Mandatory reconsideration will only apply to decisions made on or after 28th October. The letter giving you a decision about your ESA must explain that if you wish to challenge the decision you will have to go through the mandatory reconsideration process before appealing. If that information is not included with the decision letter then you can go straight to appeal.
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How long do I have to ask for a mandatory reconsideration?

You must do ask for a mandatory reconsideration within the time limit of one calendar month. If you have asked for a written statement of reasons for the decision the deadline may be extended.

If you miss this deadline you will need to give reasons for why your request is late and it will then be up to a decision maker to decide whether to extend the deadline.

The decision maker has the power to extend the deadline by up to 12 months.

There is no right of appeal against a decision not to extend the deadline, however. The only slim hope would be to try to have the decision judicially reviewed.
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How do I ask for a mandatory reconsideration?

You can ask for a mandatory reconsideration in writing or by telephone. There will be details of who to contact and how in the decision notification letter you receive.

If you do ask by phone, we would advise you to follow this up with a letter stating that you asked for a mandatory reconsideration by telephone on whatever date – just in case your call wasn’t logged or recorded.

However you ask, you must do so within the deadline. (There’s more on this above).
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Will my ESA be paid while a mandatory reconsideration takes place?

If you were found fit for work and you ask for a mandatory reconsideration then you will not be paid any ESA until either the decision is changed in your favour or the mandatory reconsideration is completed and you have lodged an appeal.

You can ask to be paid ESA at the assessment phase rate once you have lodged your appeal. However, it will not be paid until the Tribunals Service confirm to the DWP that an appeal has been lodged. At the moment it is not clear whether your ESA payments will be backdated to when your ESA was stopped at this stage or whether this will only happen if, you actually win your appeal. Please check back for updates.

If you were placed in the work-related activity group and you are challenging the decision because you think you ought to be in the support group, then you will continue to be paid ESA with a work-related activity component throughout the mandatory reconsideration and, if necessary, appeal process. Important! You need to be aware that if you challenge a decision to place you in the WRAG there is always a possibility that your award of ESA may be stopped altogether rather than increased or left the same, although this is rare.
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What other benefits can I claim whilst the mandatory reconsideration is taking place?

If you have not been awarded any rate of ESA at all, whilst the mandatory reconsideration is taking place you will not be able to claim ESA at the assessment phase rate. Instead, you will be forced to claim another benefit, such as Jobseeker's Allowance, if you are eligible or not claim any income replacement benefit at all.

You will still be able to claim other benefits, such as housing benefit whilst the mandatory reconsideration takes place. However, the ending of your ESA may interrupt the payment of other benefits and you will need to contact the agencies that pay them about the change in your circumstances.

If you have been placed in the work-related activity group and are asking to be placed in the support group, you will continue to receive ESA with a work-related activity component whilst your mandatory reconsideration takes place.
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How long does a mandatory reconsideration take?

The short answer is that nobody knows. It will vary from case to case and office to office. The one thing we know for certain is that there is no time limit within which the DWP must carry out a mandatory reconsideration – they can take as long as they choose. If further evidence has to be collected by the DWP, or if they ask you to provide further evidence, then this will prolong the process. Also, if the decision maker thinks they are unlikely to make a more favourable decision they will make up to three attempts to speak to you on the phone before making a decision. Again, this could prolong the process.

There is some evidence that the DWP have set themselves a target of 10 days to carry out mandatory reconsiderations, but this is in no way binding upon them and it would be very surprising if this timescale was met in the majority of cases.
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Will the decision maker contact me during the mandatory reconsideration process?

If the decision maker doesn’t think that they can make a new decision in your favour they will try to telephone you to see if you have any other evidence you can send or any other information you can give them that might make a difference. they should make two or possibly three attempts to call you before giving up and making the unfavourable decision anyway.

If you do have more evidence to send, the decision maker will postpone the decision for a month to give you time to send it.
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Will a mandatory reconsideration decision be backdated?

Yes. If the decision is favourable your award will be backdated to the date of the decision you were unhappy with. You will be paid any benefits you are owed, minus the amount of any income replacement benefits, such as JSA, that you have claimed whilst waiting for a decision.
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How will I be told what the mandatory reconsideration decision is?

You will receive two copies of the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice through the post, will which explain what the result of the reconsideration is. If you are unhappy with the decision and wish to challenge it, you will have to enclose one of the Mandatory Reconsideration Notices with your appeal form (SSCS1).
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What do I do if I am not happy with the result of the mandatory reconsideration?

Once you have had your mandatory reconsideration decision you can appeal against it if you are not happy with the result.

You will have to lodge your appeal within the one month deadline and you will have to lodge your appeal directly with Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) instead of with the DWP.

You will need to complete form SSCS1 and send it to the address given on the form accompanied by a copy of the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice. If you have lost your Mandatory Reconsideration Notice you will need to contact the DWP and ask for a duplicate to be sent out to you. Furthermore, the old appeal form (GL24) can no longer be used.

From October 2014, there will be a deadline of 28 days for the DWP to provide an appeal response once they are informed by HMCTS that you have lodged an appeal. However, at the time of writing there is no deadline.


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What is to stop me just lodging my appeal without asking for a mandatory reconsideration?

If you try to lodge an appeal before having a mandatory reconsideration, HMCTS will simply return your appeal form to you and tell you that you must send a mandatory reconsideration notice with your appeal form before it can be accepted.
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Where can I get help with a mandatory reconsideration?

Benefits and Work publishes a detailed guide to ESA appeals which covers mandatory reconsiderations and appeals in depth from the day they are introduced.

In addition, you can try to get help from a local advice agency. Some housing associations, local authorities and similar bodies may also employ welfare rights workers who can offer help.
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