Ask CPAG Online - How do you pursue a mandatory reconsideration?
The rules and practical advice on pursuing a mandatory reconsideration (MR) are covered in ‘Pursuing a mandatory reconsideration’.
The following points are particularly relevant to MRs of PIP disability decisions:
- It is best to apply for a MR in writing (or confirm a telephone application in writing) to the office which issued the PIP decision you wish to dispute, making it very clear at the top of your letter that you are applying for a MR. Keep a copy of the letter.
- Contact the DWP if you do not receive a response (preferably before the time limit for applying for a MR has expired), to check the application was received and is being dealt with.
- If the application is late, consider whether there are grounds for requesting an extension of the one month time limit (up to a maximum of 13 months). You must show that it was not practicable for your application to have been made in time because of ‘special circumstances’, which could include illness or disability, or wrong advice or ignorance about the time limits. The later your application, the more compelling the reasons must be. The DWP takes the view that there is no right of appeal against a refusal to extend the time limit. Arguably, this is wrong because the DWP has ‘considered’ your application for revision triggering a right of appeal, and denying you a right of appeal may be contrary to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. You should seek specialist advice if you are told you cannot appeal in these circumstances.
- An alternative it to consider whether there are grounds for requesting a revision on the basis of ‘official error’ by the DWP (to which you did not contribute), for which there is no time limit. This could apply if the DWP had clear evidence that you were entitled to PIP which it failed to take into account. The DWP is likely to say there is no right of appeal if it refuses to revise, but you may be able to appeal against the original decision, or argue that there is a right of appeal because the DWP has 'considered' your application for revision.
- You should set out your grounds for the DWP to revise the decision you are disputing. See ‘What are the grounds for disputing a PIP disability decision?’ and ‘How should you present your case?’.
- The MR process is likely to include telephone calls from the DWP to ‘explain’ their decision and ask whether you have any further information or evidence you wish to submit. You need to be aware that your responses can influence the outcome (and even result in an application being treated as withdrawn). You should make it clear that you want the MR to proceed unless you are completely satisfied with an explanation and decision.
- New supportive medical evidence is likely to maximise your prospects of a successful outcome. It may also, however, delay the completion of the MR if you first have to obtain the evidence which will then need to be considered by a DWP decision maker.
- Sometimes the DWP carry out an ‘initial’ revision to see whether a decision can be changed before sending the MR to a ‘disputes resolution team. This may result in a partial revision (e.g. a decision that you are entitled to one component of PIP only where you have argued for both, following a refusal of both). There is no legal basis for requiring you to request a further MR following an initial or partial revision.
- There are often long delays in getting a MR decision. You should contact the DWP to try to find out what is happening. It may be necessary to make a formal complaint to the DWP and if necessary the Independent Case Examiner or the Ombudsman. You could also ask your MP for help. As a last resort, you should specialist advice about the possibility of threatening and pursuing judicial review proceedings.
- At the end of the MR process, you should receive two copies of a MR notice, setting out the decision on your application. You need this to appeal.