Mandatory reconsiderations are designed to discourage you
Don’t be fooled by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)’s universal credit mandatory reconsideration con-trick.
It’s definitely mandatory, but it’s hardly ever a reconsideration.
Instead, it’s simply a very effective way of hugely reducing the number of people who successfully challenge a decision about their capability for work.
But losing at the mandatory reconsideration stage, as six out of seven people do, is certainly not evidence that you are going to lose at appeal.
How mandatory reconsiderations work
In order to challenge a universal credit decision, you first have to complete a mandatory reconsideration.
This means that you have to ask for the decision to be looked at again by another decision maker.
Only if you are unhappy with this new decision can you go on to lodge an appeal.
It is vital that you request a mandatory reconsideration within the time limit.
This is usually one calendar month from the date of the decision. If you have asked for a written statement of reasons, it is 14 days from the date of the written reasons. In practice the written reasons will not add much detail to the decision, so in practice it is best not to bother obtaining them, simply submit a mandatory reconsideration. Whilst you are going through the mandatory reconsideration stage you cannot be paid benefit as sick. When you appeal you can.
The time limit can also be extended if you have good cause for a late request, but note that except in very unusual cases, the absolute time limit is 13 months. There’s more in our guide to ESA mandatory reconsiderations and appeals.
Your chances of success at mandatory reconsideration stage are very poor.
The latest statistics show that only around 14% of mandatory reconsiderations resulted in a better decision for the claimant.
Many people believe that this additional stage of the appeal system was introduced solely to drag out the process and discourage claimants from going on to a proper appeal.
And the evidence suggests that they are right.
The number of appeals has dropped dramatically since compulsory mandatory reconsiderations were imposed.
Only around 21% of claimants who have had a universal credit mandatory reconsideration go on to appeal.
Under the old system, 100% of those claimants would have gone straight to appeal, unless the DWP changed the decision in their favour before the appeal was heard.
Don’t let an unfair mandatory reconsideration ruin your chances
So, the important thing is not to be discouraged if the mandatory reconsideration decision goes against you.
Because your chances at an oral hearing, in front of an independent appeal panel, are dramatically better.
The success rate for appeals about capability for work stands at over 60%.
Our guide will take you every step of the way through the mandatory reconsideration process, working on the assumption that you are unlikely to be successful at this stage, but that the evidence you give is significant as it can be taken into account as part of your appeal.
If you are very fortunate, you will get the right decision at your mandatory reconsideration without ever having to go to appeal. We certainly hear from members for whom this has happened.
But if, like the overwhelming majority, you are disappointed at this stage, please do not despair.
Instead, as soon as you get your mandatory reconsideration notice, carry on to appeal in the knowledge that the odds are now very definitely in your favour.