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.

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What is a mandatory reconsideration for ESA?

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.

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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. See our guide for further advice and information about this.

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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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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 I continue to receive ESA during the mandatory reconsideration process?

What you are able to claim will depend on the type of decision you are challenging. See our guide to ESA mandatory reconsiderations and appeals for more information on this.

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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). This is due to be renamed SSCS1PE from January 2020, but at the time of writing, late March 2020, this doesn’t appear to have happened. Anyway do not worry if you use the old form, your appeal will still be accepted, although it may take slightly longer to process.

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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. If you miss the one-month deadline, you will have to explain why your appeal is late. The absolute time limit is 13 months. Many late appeals are accepted, so don’t despair, submit your appeal.

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 appeal online, there is no provision for sending your MR letter. HMCTS will check with the DWP that an MR has been undertaken. 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.

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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. This will only apply if the reason you are no longer entitled to ESA is because either you failed to return your ESA50 or failed, without good cause, to attend a WCA medical. If you fail the WCA for any other reason you can appeal without the need to go through the MR process.

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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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