Contesting a PIP determination, or filing an appeal

Before you can appeal to a tribunal, you must first request that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) reconsider the decision. This is known as mandatory reconsideration.

If the DWP's decision does not change after you ask them to reconsider, you can appeal to an independent panel known as a tribunal.

The tribunal considers both sides' evidence before making a final decision. The tribunal is part of the court system, not the DWP.

When you can file an appeal with a tribunal

You have the right to appeal any decision made regarding your PIP claim. The following are some of the most common reasons:

  • You did not receive PIP.
  • You received a lower level of PIP than you anticipated.
  • you believe your PIP award should be extended

The appeal will consider whether the decision was correct at the time it was made, rather than whether your condition has worsened since then. If this applies to you, seek advice from your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales or Scotland.

To be able to appeal to a tribunal, you must first:

  • your DWP letter with the words 'Mandatory Reconsideration Notice' at the top - if you've misplaced it, request a replacement.
  • to submit your appeal form within one month of the date shown on the mandatory reconsideration notice

It can take a long time to get to a tribunal hearing - how long depends on where you live.

The process can be exhausting, but keep in mind that more than half of people who appeal their PIP decision are successful at a tribunal.

If you believe the decision is incorrect, do not hesitate to file an appeal.

Obtaining assistance with your appeal

Citizens Advice or a local disability support agency can assist you with your appeal.

You may be able to get someone to act as your representative during the appeal, such as an adviser or a solicitor, but they are not always available. Your local Citizens Advice or law centre may be able to help you find one, but if there are any costs, legal aid will not cover them if you live in England or Wales. In Scotland, you might be able to get financial assistance. A representative can assist you with paperwork and may be able to speak on your behalf.

Don't be concerned if you don't have a representative; the tribunal board is most interested in hearing how your condition affects you and how you describe it. Support from a friend or family member can be very beneficial, and you can do it without the assistance of a professional.

Fill out the appeal form

You have one month from the date of receipt of your mandatory reconsideration notice to file an appeal with HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

You can begin your appeal by:

You will require:

If you do not complete the entire appeal form, your appeal may be rejected.

Explain why you're filing an appeal.

The most important section of the application is 'The reasons for your appeal' (Section 5 on form SSCS1). In this box, you must explain why you disagree with the decision.

Make a note of each statement that you disagree with and why in your decision letter, statement of reasons, and medical assessment report. Give facts, examples, and medical evidence (if any) to back up your claims.

You may have already done this for your mandatory reconsideration letter; if so, you can reuse the same examples and evidence.

You should also look at the points system used by the DWP to assess PIP claims (called descriptors) to see where you might get more points. It is critical to use appropriate evidence. You can use our guide to how the DWP makes decisions to assist you.

If you prefer, you can include all of this information on a separate sheet; simply write 'See enclosed information' in the box and securely attach any papers to the form.

Tribunals may re-examine your entire award. So think about whether you want to risk losing your current award - for example, if you have evidence to support a daily living component but are worried about losing your mobility award because you can now move better. If you are unsure, you should seek advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

An example of depression influencing one's eating and drinking habits

I don't believe you've considered the effects of my severe depression on food preparation and eating. I have trouble concentrating, so even if I force myself to begin, I am unable to complete a meal. I only eat meals that I can reheat in the microwave. I've burned myself while cooking from scratch because I lose concentration and forget there's a pan on the stove.

An example of a mobility decision being challenged

I don't believe you fully comprehended my mobility issues. You claim I can walk 50 meters without assistance. In reality, doing so causes me significant pain and prevents me from walking for the rest of the day. I've enclosed a report from my occupational therapist that goes into greater detail.

An example of contesting the evaluation

I don't believe all of the results of my medical evaluation are correct. The examiner asked if I could lift a cup. I did as instructed, but it resulted in shooting pains up my arm that took several hours to subside and left me unable to hold anything else for the rest of the day. In the assessment, I was not given the opportunity to explain this.

If you missed the deadline, you can still submit the SSCS1 form; however, in Section 5 you must explain why you were late (for example, if you were in the hospital). The tribunal board will investigate why your form was late and decide whether to allow you to appeal.

In person, request a hearing.

It is always preferable to request an in-person hearing (also known as an oral hearing). This may appear intimidating, but it is a casual meeting, and you can bring someone with you for moral support. An oral hearing provides you with more opportunities to present your case and a better chance of winning.

Tick the box that says 'I want to attend the hearing' - this is Section 6 on form SSCS1.

If possible, a tribunal judge will evaluate your case without conducting a hearing. Instead, they will base their decision solely on the documents. Send any evidence you have to the tribunal as soon as possible, such as medical records.

If the judge decides to dismiss your case based on the documents, he or she will send you a 'provisional decision.' If you disagree with the provisional decision, inform the tribunal that you prefer a hearing. You can find your tribunal's contact information on GOV.UK. UK

If a hearing is required, the tribunal may recommend a phone call or video conference. You can find out how to prepare if the tribunal schedules a phone or video call hearing.

If you attend the tribunal in person, you must wear a mask or cover over your mouth and nose. You will not be permitted to enter the building if you do not wear one. Some people are exempt from wearing one; see GOV for a list of those who are exempt. UK

Request what you require.

You can include the dates you won't be available and any information you need at the hearing - if you're filling out form SSCS1, this is Section 7.  

It is critical to consider and write down anything that might prevent you from attending the hearing. For instance:

  • Due to childcare responsibilities, you can only attend a hearing during school hours or term time.
  • vacations you've planned
  • any dates when you have important medical appointments

If you do not mention these, and the hearing is scheduled for a date when you are unavailable, you may be unable to change it.

The tribunal center should be accessible, but write down any aids or assistance you'll require, such as a sign language interpreter.

Submit the form

When you complete the online form, it is sent to you.  

Send your documents to HM Courts and Tribunals Service, not the DWP, if you filled out the paper form. The address is on the form. The following should be included:

  • the SSCS1 form, which has been completed
  • a copy of your Notice of Mandatory Reconsideration
  • any additional evidence you have, though this can be sent later

If possible, send your appeal documents via recorded delivery. Otherwise, take them to your local Post Office and request proof of postage. This will come in handy later if the tribunal service claims you missed the deadline or if the letter is misplaced in the mail.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service will review the form and then request a response from the DWP within another 28 days.

The following will be sent to you by HM Courts and Tribunals Service:

  • a duplicate of the DWP's response
  • information on what will happen next
  • When and where the hearing will take place (if you requested an oral hearing rather than a paper one)

Keep track of your appeal

You will be asked if you want to join the 'track your appeal' service if you appeal a PIP decision online. This will send you email updates and reminders about your appeal on a regular basis. You'll also be given a login so you can track the status of your appeal at any time.

If you applied by post, you can contact the HM Courts and Tribunal Service and request that updates and reminders be sent to you via text message.

Service of HM Courts and Tribunals

Phone number: 0300 123 1142
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. 30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Contact us at [email protected].

If you don't want to call or email, you can discuss your appeal with a trained helper online at the HM Courts and Tribunals Service website.

Next steps

The tribunal hearing when contesting a PIP decision

It's a good idea to double-check that you're receiving all of the other benefits to which you're entitled; if you're 18 or older, you can use the Turn2us benefits calculator to find out.

You can also get budgeting assistance and ideas for making your money go further.

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