Ask CPAG Online - Can you be paid disputed benefit during a MR?
There is no provision for the payment of disputed benefit entitlement during a MR. This means that you will receive reduced payments, or no benefit payments at all, until the MR is completed and either your entitlement is restored or you successfully appeal to an independent tribunal.
Special rules may allow you to qualify for backdated employment and support allowance (ESA) after you have appealed (see What can you claim pending a MR of an ESA decision?). There are no time limits for carrying out MRs, so you could be left without benefit for lengthy periods. See Pursuing a mandatory reconsideration for dealing with delays.
Note that where only part of a particular benefit has been disallowed, the rest of it remains payable during a MR. For example, if you are only disputing the refusal of:
- the mobility component of personal independence payment, your entitlement to the daily living component is paid to you;
- the ESA support component, the rest of your ESA entitlement is paid to you;
- one element of universal credit (UC) e.g. a carer’s element, a limited capability for work element, or some of your housing costs (e.g. because of the ‘bedroom tax’), the rest of your UC is paid to you.
Where, however, you are disputing a decision that you are not entitled to all of a particular benefit, none of it is paid during a MR. This could apply, for example, where you have been refused a means-tested benefit or tax credits because you do not have a ‘right to reside’ in the UK, or you are not entitled to ESA because you do not have ‘limited capability for work’.
Where there is a relevant change in your circumstances, you may be able to make a new claim for the benefit in dispute because you now satisfy the conditions of entitlement. Examples include where you are disputing a decision that you are not entitled to:
- ESA and you are now suffering with a new, or significantly worsened, medical condition;
- personal independence payment (PIP) and your condition has worsened and you now have increased daily living or mobility needs;
- jobseeker’s allowance because you are not available for work, or actively seeking work, but you can now demonstrate that you are;
- a means-tested benefit because you are living with a partner, but the person has now left your home.
Special rules apply if you reclaim ESA following a decision that you do not have limited capability for work (see What can you claim pending a MR of an ESA decision?).
If you do not have enough money to live on during a MR because your benefit has been reduced or stopped, you may be able to:
- claim another benefit;
- claim hardship payments of jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), ESA or UC if you have been sanctioned;
- request ‘local welfare assistance’ from your local authority.
Disputing overpayment decisions
You can ask the DWP to suspend recovery of an overpayment pending a MR (and subsequent appeal) of a recoverability decision. You should write to the DWP setting out your grounds which may include financial hardship. If the DWP refuse to suspend recovery, you can make a complaint or seek legal advice about judicial review.
The same approach applies to HMRC child benefit decisions. HMRC have a policy of suspending recovery of tax credit overpayments pending a MR (and appeal) - see COP26 Code of Practice.
Note that MR is a separate process to requesting the DWP or HMRC not to recover an overpayment which is recoverable – see Chapters 52 and 62 of the CPAG Handbook.