Appealing an ESA decision

If you disagree with any decision about your claim for ESA, you might be able to appeal.

You have one month from the date of the decision to ask for it to be explained or reconsidered, or to appeal against it.

How to appeal

If your claim was turned down, or if you do not agree with which group you have been placed in, you have to ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to reconsider their decision before you can lodge a formal appeal. This is known as a mandatory reconsideration. You do this by phoning the telephone number on your decision letter.

If the DWP is unable to change the decision, they will write to you to inform you of this. You will then have a month to lodge your formal appeal.

To lodge an appeal you will need to use an SSCS1 appeal form, which you can get online from the government website, or in paper form from an independent advisory body such as a Citizen's Advice Bureau.

You have one calendar month from the date on the decision letter to lodge your appeal. It is advisable to make a copy of the appeal form before sending it off.

Please note that while you are waiting for the decision to be reconsidered you will not be eligible for ESA, so you will need to claim Jobseeker's Allowance instead.

Opting for a hearing

The Courts and Tribunals Service will send you a pre-hearing enquiry form once they receive your completed SSC1 appeal form. This asks whether you want your appeal to be decided with or without a hearing.

You stand a much better chance of winning the tribunal if you attend the hearing.

If your appeal goes to tribunal, you may want to take a friend, family member, or independent advocate with you. The following organisations may be able to help you find an advocate:

Check the assessment report carefully

  • Has everything you said been put down? Has anything been misrepresented?
  • Is anything in the report inconsistent or wrong?
  • How long did the assessment take? Did you get the opportunity to say everything you needed to?
  • Do you think you have been awarded the correct number of points for all of the descriptors?

You can ask your healthcare professional (for example, GP, MS nurse, neurologist or occupational therapist) to write a letter to support your appeal, explaining how you meet the descriptors and where you should have been awarded more points.

Talk to someone who's been through the process: visit the MS Society's online discussion forum, or call our Helpline on 0808 800 8000.

How to make a complaint

  • During the assessment – you can complain to the approved healthcare professional at the time. If they cannot resolve the problem, they should give you a brochure explaining the formal complaints procedure.
  • After the assessment – to file a complaint contact ATOS (the agency which carries out the assessments).

For information on how to complain, visit the ATOS website.

Note: ATOS will not record your first complaint as ‘official’. You need to complain again to get it recorded as an official complaint. 

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Page last updated: 11 Apr 2014

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