The law does not specify how you must ask for a MR of a DWP benefit or child benefit decision. In practice, applications can be made in writing (by post or in person at a Jobcentre Plus office) or by telephone. In the case of universal credit (UC), if you live in a UC 'full service area', the DWP has indicated that you should apply for UC via your 'online journal', although legally you should also be able to apply in other ways. For tax credits, an application for a MR must be submitted in writing, but it appears HMRC will also accept telephone requests. Applications should be addressed to the office which made the decision you wish to dispute.
Because there are no rules on what a MR request is, problems and delays can occur where a dispute arises as to whether a MR application was made. There is no legal requirement to use the term ‘mandatory reconsideration’ when making an application, but failure to do so could lead to disputes about whether a MR was requested.
Where, for example, you call the DWP or visit a Jobcentre to query a benefit decision and give further information about your circumstances, this may, or may not, be treated as an application for a MR. In the latter case, the time limit for applying for a MR (see What are the time limits?) may have expired by the time you contact the DWP again. The problem is compounded by confusion about the difference between a MR, an appeal, a supersession, and asking for a written explanation of a decision.
To avoid these problems, you should always:
- apply for a MR of a tax credits or child benefit decision by completing and submitting form WTC/AP or CH24A, keeping a copy of your application;
- apply for a MR of a DWP decision in writing (or confirm a telephone application in writing) to the office which sent you the decision you are disputing, making it very clear that you are applying for a MR (see example below), and keeping a copy of the letter;
- apply for a MR of a UC decision through your onllne account (journal) if you live in a UC 'full service area;
- contact the DWP / HMRC if you have not heard anything (preferably before the time limit for applying for a MR has expired ), to check your form or letter has been received and is being dealt with.
Example letter requesting a MR of a DWP decision
If you are writing on behalf of someone else, you need to include their written authority allowing you to do so. For tax credits and child benefit, you can complete the relevant section of the WTC/AP form to confirm you are acting on someone else’s behalf, or complete form TC689 to allow you to act on behalf of someone else for one year.
Other points to bear in mind are that:
- you are entitled to request a written statement of reasons for a DWP or child benefit decision within one month, if the decision notice does not include such a statement (this extends the time limit for requesting a MR, but you should not delay applying for a MR in case there is a dispute about whether the decision notice already included reasons);
- if you mistakenly submit an appeal against a DWP decision instead of requesting a MR, the DWP can treat the appeal as an application for a MR1 (if you submit your appeal to HM Courts and Tribunals Service, it should be returned to you with advice to request a MR);
- if you believe you are entitled to a higher award of a benefit because your circumstances have changed (e.g. a higher rate of personal independence payment or the support component of employment and support allowance), you must first request a supersession. If the DWP then refuse to increase your award, you must request a MR before you can appeal to an independent tribunal.