How to appeal against a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions

In this article, we are going to talk about how to appeal against a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions for either PIP or ESA benefits.

How to appeal against a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions

If you wish to appeal against a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions, first you have to ask the DWP for a mandatory reconsideration, meaning they have to look again at your file and all the evidence. 

If after the mandatory reconsideration the decision-maker decided there was no mistake made, and you still disagree with their decision, you have the right to appeal the DWP’s decision to an independent tribunal.

What is a Mandatory Reconsideration?

Mandatory reconsideration is a distinctive attribute of the UK social security system through which someone can challenge a decision that they disagree with, including the decision not to allocate a benefit.

Mandatory consideration is imperative for anyone who wants to appeal to a benefits tribunal. 

Anyone who disagrees with a decision about benefits, tax credits or child maintenance is eligible for Mandatory Reconsideration.

You need to ask for this reassessment within one month of the date of the decision.

If you pass the deadline, the DWP has the right to decline your request. 

You can apply for a mandatory reconsideration if:

  • You disagree with the reason for the decision
  • You thing the office dealing with your claim has made an error or missed and important evidence
  • You want the decision looked at again.

The best way to apply for mandatory reconsideration is to use the CRMR1 request form or to write a letter to the Department for Work and Pension and explain why you disagree with their decision. 

In your mandatory reconsideration letter, you have to write why and how you disagree with the decision-maker.

It’s crucial to give facts, examples, details and medical reports as evidence to what you are saying.

You can even bring new evidence from your GP, community nurse or a paid carer in order to support your affirmations.

How to appeal against a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions for PIP benefit

There are two ways to ask for a PIP appeal. The first and the most popular one is to fill in an appeal form, called the SSCS1 form and send it by post. 

The second option is to appeal against the DWP’s decision online. 

There are a few things you have to do in order to prepare for your PIP appeal:

  • Register for text or email updates about your appeal.
  • Get some professional help to prepare you for the hearing (Citizen Advice bureau can give you more advice on How to appeal PIP).
  • Announce the tribunal as soon as you know if something important came up and you want to change the date of the hearing.
  • Read carefully all the information the tribunal service will send you so you know what to expect. 
  • Arrange transportation, ask a family member or a friend to be there with you on the day of the hearing. 
  • If there is new evidence, send it to the tribunal as soon as you can. Useful evidence explains how the disability or your condition affects you and can be obtained either from your GP, nurse, social worker or occupational therapist. 
  • You should check the location of the hearing and decide what expenses you can claim and how to claim them. You can get more information about this from the tribunal service. 

On the day of the appeal:

  • Make sure you arrive in plenty of time, you don’t want the hearing to start without you. 
  • Take a friend or a family member with you, they can be of great support.
  • Make sure you’ve read the appeal papers that the tribunal has sent to you.
  • If there is new evidence, bring it with you. 
  • Try to answer every question that they ask you as broadly as you can. Give details and examples. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you hear something is said incorrectly. 
  • You can ask the judge to repeat or rephrase a question if you didn’t understand something. 
  • You have the legal right to ask for the hearing to be stopped if you did require help with translation or communication and it is not available when you arrive.

How to appeal against a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions for ESA benefit

There are two conditions you must respect when you make an ESA appeal.

First, you must appeal in writing (use the SSCS1 form).

Second, have you already asked the DWP to reconsider their decision, but you still disagree with the outcome?

This step is called asking for a mandatory reconsideration

If for some reason you prefer to write an official letter instead of filling the SSCS1 form, make sure you include in the letter the following information:  

  • Make sure to write your full name and contact address;
  • Include your National Insurance number;
  • Write as clearly and with as many examples as possible why you think the DWP is wrong;
  • You should attach a copy of the mandatory reconsideration notice with your letter;
  • Don’t forget to sign the letter at the bottom of the page. 

To improve your chances of success at your ESA appeal:

  1. Ask for an oral hearing – the success rate at paper hearings is very low indeed.
  2. Make sure you know all the appeal deadlines and don’t miss any of them.
  3. Go through every point scoring descriptor in the test, to decide if there are any points you could ask the tribunal for that you didn’t realize might apply when you filled out your questionnaire.
  4. Look at the safety-net ‘exceptional circumstances’ regulations and decide whether any of them might apply to you.
  5. Submit supporting medical and non-medical evidence for your ESA appeal.
  6. Watch a hearing before attending yours, so you know exactly what happens at a tribunal first-hand.
  7. Be aware of the importance of issues like how you travel to the appeal hearing and the clothes you wear

Are PIP appeals successful?

Yes, PIP appeals are successful. According to the new Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics, the success rate for PIP and ESA appeals has now reached 76%. 

The new MoJ figures also show for the period from July to September 2019  that of the disposals made by the SSCS Tribunal, there were:

 38,000 (74%) cleared at the hearing, and of this 71 % were found in favour of the customer (up from 68% in the same period in 2018). 

ESA and PIP appeals were real success during the period from July to September 2018.

However, many claimants, around 22% to be exact, did not go through and dropped the appeal.

The reason why that happened is probably worth finding out and would reveal the real gaps in the social benefits system.

Are ESA appeals successful?

According to the DWP’s official statistics, on average, two-thirds of the new claims for ESA are placed in the support group. 

“The latest figures from the DWP show that nearly two-thirds of new ESA claimants were placed in the support group, an increase of 5% in the previous quarter.

17% were placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG), which was down 4% in the previous quarter.

Just over a quarter were found fit for work, as in the previous period.”

Following the ESA reassessments:

80% of claimants were placed in the support group

13% of claimants were placed in the WRAG

6% of claimants were found fit for work.

Speaking of the ESA appeals rate of success, the same statistics show that 73%  of social security appeals are won.

The claimants are winning PIP and ESA appeals at the highest rate ever recorded.


In this article, we talked about how to appeal against a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions for either PIP or ESA benefits.

Now you know what are the mandatory steps to appealing a DWP decision, how to improve your chances of winning an appeal and what are success rates for both ESA and PIP appeals.

Please feel free to ask any questions or to leave any comments regarding the process of appealing against a decision made by the DWP.

FAQ on How to appeal against a decision made by the DWP

How do you disagree with a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions?

If you disagree with a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions the first step is to call them and let them know why you disagree with their decision and hear their reasoning.

How long does an appeal take for PIP?

An appeal for PIP takes between two weeks and several months.

If you have sent a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice, contact the DWP after 2 weeks to check if they received and logged your application.

If you have no answer after 8 weeks it’s a good idea to contact them again and ask how much longer it will take.

Can DWP overturn the PIP tribunal decision?

The DWP cannot overturn the PIP tribunal decision, however, they can appeal against it, in exactly the same way as you can.

Can DWP change its decision before appeal?

The DWP can review its decision anytime before the appeal.

Usually, this happens because the claimant has brought in more evidence.  

Can I cancel my ESA assessment?

You can cancel one appointment but you will need to reschedule it or you risk having your claim closed.

Do you still get PIP if you appeal?

If you appeal, your chances to get PIP might increase.

More than half of PIP decisions are changed after mandatory reconsideration or an appeal to a tribunal.

So do not hesitate to challenge the decision of the DWP if you think it’s wrong. 

Further reading

  1. Represent Yourself in Court: How to Prepare & Try a Winning Case
  2. Personal Independence Payment: What You Need to Know
  3. How to Remain Calm In the Midst of Chaos
  4. How to Write An Appeal Letter / Plan of Action 
  5. Social Security, Medicare and Government Pensions: Get the Most Out of Your Retirement and Medical Benefits
  6. Insider’s Guide to Government Benefits


  1. Advice Now: How to win a PIP appeal
  2. How to submit a PIP appeal
  3. ESA appeals – Benefits and Work