The dispute process
There are three options to the appeals process. The council deals with some of the options and the Tribunals Service (TS) deals with the rest. The TS is part of the Department of Constitutional Affairs and already hears appeals for other DWP benefits.
How we worked out your benefit
You have already received a letter telling you
You must read the decision letter carefully. If any of the details are wrong you must tell us in writing or by email(see below) straight away and we will put it right.
If you phone or visit we can explain your benefit to you. If you are still unsure about any aspect of your claim, an appointment can be made for a private interview.
This is not part of the appeals process and does not extend the time limits for any of the options.
Option 1 - Written explanation
If you want to know more about how your benefit was worked out you can write for a written explanation of all, or any part of the assessment.
You must do this within one calendar month of the date on the letter telling you about the decision. You should use the form at the end of your decision letter.
If you ask for a written explanation, it will extend the time allowed to take up the other options by the number of days it takes us to send you a reply.
Option 2 - Reconsidering your benefit
You can ask for your case to be reconsidered. To do this
We do not have to reconsider your case if you do not write to us within one calendar month. We may still reconsider your case if you have a good reason for any delay, but you must tell us in writing why your request is late.
We will try to deal with your request within 10 working days.
If your benefit is changed in your favour, you will get a new decision letter and the appeals process starts again.
If your benefit is unchanged, or not in your favour, the appeals process can continue. We will send you a letter to tell you whether we have revised the benefit or not.
Option 3 - Independent Tribunal
You can ask for an Independent Tribunal to look at your case
In exceptional cases a late appeal can be made, but this can never be more than 13 months after the original decision. You would have to explain in writing the reason for the delay. The Tribunals Service, not the council, will decide whether they can accept your appeal.
What happens at the tribunal?
A chairperson, who is normally a solicitor, hears tribunals. He or she is employed by the Tribunals Service to hear your case. An accountant may hear your case if the appeal is about how your income has been worked out if you are self-employed.
You do not have to attend and you can outline your case by a letter. However, you are more likely to be successful if you attend, as you will be able to put your points forward in person.
Whether you attend or not, your case will be considered and so will any points that you put forward.
The tribunal is informal. It is not a court hearing.
Tribunals will be held in Sutton, Maidstone or Horsham, depending on your post code. You will be able to claim your travel expenses and if you need a translator the Tribunals Service will provide one.
Hearings usually last about 45 minutes, but they always last as long as it takes to give you a fair hearing.
The chairperson decides the procedure at the hearing. However, the chairperson will always let you know the procedure and introduce everyone in the room.
The Council will usually have a presenting officer at the hearing. He or she is there to advise the chairperson on aspects of your case, but will not usually have been involved in your case before the tribunal.
You will be given an opportunity to state your case and to ask and answer questions.
After the tribunal
You will normally be given the chairperson's decision at the end of the tribunal. Sometimes, the decision will be sent in the post.
If you still disagree, you will be told whether you have any further rights of appeal.
Help and advice
You can ask about your benefit claim at any time. You can visit our counter Monday to Fridays between 8.30a.m. to 5p.m. (4.30p.m. on Fridays) or telephone the Benefits Help Desk on 01883 732900 or email email@example.com
You can also get free independent advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau
For further information please contact Benefits on 01883 732900 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call the 24 hour automated telephone information service on 08459 400 470.
Or write to us at:
Tandridge District Council
8 Station Road East
Oxted RH8 0BT
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