Can DWP change their mind before a Tribunal hearing?

This blog post will explore whether the DWP can change their mind before a tribunal hearing. 

We will also briefly discuss what a tribunal is, how one applies for an appeal, prepare for it, and what one can expect during and after a hearing.  

Can DWP change their mind before a Tribunal hearing?

Yes, it is possible for the Department of Work and Pensions to revise their decision before a tribunal hearing. 

Assuming that the initial decision of the DWP was to reject your claim or that there was no award of PIP, there is a possibility that the DWP can change their mind and change their decision to be more favourable to the claimants case, 

If you have sent them across new evidence that supports your claim, a new decision could be reached without the need to actually attend a tribunal hearing. 

The Decision maker, on viewing new evidence, can revise the decision favourably, which will lead the claimant’s appeal to be lapsed. 

The DMG handbook, chapter 6 on the rules and advice that the decision maker must adhere to, gives a clear description of how issues are resolved during the period before the hearing.

According to these rules and advice, the decision makers are reminded that after the appeal has been sent to the Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Services (HMCTS) if any changed or decision have been made under the appeal, even if it is before the hearing, the First Tier Tribunal must be informed as to what these changes could lead to. 

The most obvious effects would either be:

  • The appeal is lapsed
  • The appeal now against unfavourable revised decision
  • Or the jurisdiction limited to periods/issues not covered by the supersession.

Regarding changes and further claims during the period before a hearing, the DMG handbook outlines the following. 

The decision maker should remember and make a note that the First tier tribunal can take into account any evidence that is produced after the decision has been made under the appeal if the information or evidence provided is relevant to the decision made. 

For example, if the claimant provided new evidence related to a new diagnosis or a change of diagnosis then the First tier tribunal can consider the report without the decision maker.

Now, if there has been any changes in circumstances of the claimant after the date of the decision made regarding the appeal, these changes are not taken into account by the tribunal and these changes must be referred to the decision maker. 

It is the decision maker, in this case, to decide whether the decision made should be superseded before the appeal is heard during the hearing. However, the

appeal does not lapse in this case. 

If these changes and revision are made, the tribunal should always be informed in a further

submission if there have been changes made before the hearing so that they are notified and the direction of the appeal reconsidered. 

What is a tribunal?

A tribunal is an independent panel that is part of the country system and independent from the Department of work and pensions that looks into the evidence and appeals against a decision made by the DWP even after mandatory reconsideration. 

The tribunal will then have a look at the evidence and claims and inform the DWP to make a final decision on the claim. This usually occurs when a person approaches a tribunal when the DWP does not change their decision even after the mandatory reconsideration stage.

How does one apply for an appeal?

You can make a straight appeal to the tribunal service once you receive your mandatory reconsideration notice form within one month from the date on your letter. 

You can challenge the DWP’s decision through appealing to the tribunal if:

  • You weren’t awarded 
  • You were awarded a lower rate than you expected
  • You think your should have been awarded for a longer period.

To appeal to a tribunal, you need to submit your mandatory reconsideration notice form by filling it in and submit your appeal form to the tribunal services.

How to Prepare for the tribunal hearing?

To prepare for the tribunal hearing, here are a few things you can do:

  • read through all the information the tribunal service sends you, and send any new evidence to the tribunal before the hearing. 
  • arrange for a family member or friend to go with you for moral support
  • check the venue has everything you need for example a sign language interpreter before so that you can prepare it beforehand in case. 

You should also be prepared in the sense that you have everything that you should take with you, such as:

  • the appeal papers 
  • any new evidence that must be handed in soon after arrival. 
  • notes covering all the things you want to say 

What can one expect at the tribunal hearing?

The appeal tribunal hearing is informal so it will not involve a full court but there will be a judge, a doctor, and one or two independent people who will consist of the Tribunal panel or board.  

The hearing will state with the judge who will introduce the tribunal and explain what it’s for.

You will be asked questions about your reasons for appealing and also details about your average day.

If someone from the DWP is there, the judge will also ask them questions regarding the claims.

You will be asked if there’s anything more you’d like to add or clarify before the hearing ends. 

You’ll be asked to leave the room during decision making and called back to be told the decision. 

You might also have to wait a few days before decisions are made. 

you’ll be called back into the room and told the decision, although occasionally you may have to wait 3 to 5 days to get a decision letter in the post

What should one do during the hearing?

Here are a few things you can do during the hearing:

Try not to feel too anxious about being asked questions since it is usually that the board won’t be hostile.

Understand that they simply want to hear about how your condition affects you so they can make the right decision.

Be open and honest in your testimony. Don’t be embarrassed about how your condition affects you and describe in as much detail as possible so that they can understand how the condition affects your life. 

You should also ask the judge or doctor to repeat any questions you don’t understand.

Be assertive as you correct anything that isn’t right and clarify if there is any misunderstanding.

Use your own words that are common and understable, it is not necessary to use medical jargon. 

It is vital that you state your case, so make sure you’ve said everything you want to say.

What happens After the hearing?

After the hearing, the tribunal panel will inform the DWP of their decision and send across an official notice of the decision to you or you might even be informed of the decision one the same day as your hearing. 

If you were successful and you have won the case, usually there are high success rates of benefits claims with the tribunal services,  the DWP will estimate how much they owe you. 

Based on their estimates, including that of expenses, you will start receiving the new amount every month, along with the amount/ sum they should have been paying you all along. 

You will usually receive your money in about a month after the decision has been made or between 4 – 6 weeks.

If you weren’t successful and you did not win the case, you will be sent documents to explain your options from here. 

You have the option to appeal to the Upper Tribunal however, this is only and option and can only be done if the panel did something wrong with the law. 

It is a very complicated process and requires the intervention and assistance of an experienced adviser. If this is something the claimant wants to do they must act fast and send across the tribunal’s statement of reasons within one month. 

Conclusion

This blog post has explored whether the DWP can change their mind before a tribunal hearing. 

We have also briefly discussed what a tribunal is, how one applies for an appeal, prepares for it, and what one can expect during and after a hearing.  

FAQ related to Can DWP change their mind before a Tribunal hearing?

Can the DWP overturn a tribunal decision?

The DWP cannot overturn the decision made by the first tier tribunal. 

They can only appeal or overturn a decision if only there is evidence related to an Error of Law in the decision making process. 

Even in this case, this appeal by the DWP will be revised by the Upper Tier tribunal and if they do not agree with the appeal of the DWP, their appeal will be rejected, 

When should an appeal be made to the tribunal?

Appeals to the tribunal should be made after the claimant goes through the mandatory reconsideration period provided by the DWP. Even when thai reconsideration is not favourable to the claimant, it is then the appeal will need to be made within a month of getting a decision through the mandatory reconsideration. 

What happens if DWP fail to respond to tribunal?

It is possible for the DWP to fail to respond to the tribunal when an appeal has been made. When this happens the tribunal can move forward with the appeal and the hearing without considering the input or the presence of a DWP member and pass on their decision after the hearing. 

How long do you have to wait for a mandatory reconsideration?

Mandatory reconsideration decisions can take between two weeks to months. If after your initial decision has been made and you are dissatisfied with the decision made, and you have not received your Mandatory Reconsideration Notice, it is a good idea to call the DWP after a period of two weeks to check if they have logged in your reconsideration process.

How long after the PIP tribunal will I get a decision?

You will be notified of the decision made at the tribunal hearing within a few weeks of the hearing. 

How long does a tribunal hearing take?

The PIP tribunal hearing usually lasts around 30 to 40 minutes and the decision making might take a few mins as well unless the judge notifies you that you will be informed of the decision in a few days. 

References

DMG Chapter 06: Making appeals and staying. Gov.UK. Retrieved on 10th January 2022. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1033115/dmgch6.pdf

How to prepare for a PIP appeal tribunal. Mental Health and Money Advice. Retrieved on 7th January 2022. https://www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org/en/welfare-benefits/pip-mental-health-guide/challenging-a-pip-decision/how-to-prepare-for-a-pip-appeal-tribunal/

How to appeal against a PIP decision.Mental Health and Money Advice. Retrieved on 7th January 2022. https://www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org/en/welfare-benefits/pip-mental-health-guide/challenging-a-pip-decision/how-to-appeal-against-a-pip-decision/

How to win a PIP appeal. Advicenow. Retrieved on 7th January 2022. https://www.advicenow.org.uk/guides/how-win-pip-appeal

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