Can you submit a Mandatory Reconsideration after the one month time limit has passed? - Yes you can!
A claimant can appeal a benefits decision to the tribunal even if their application for mandatory reconsideration was made late.
We get so many people who are unnecessarily upset and stressed because they have missed or are going to miss the one month deadline for submitting a request to the DWP for a Mandatory Reconsideration. Lets take a look at some recent developments that mean that the "one month" deadline is nothing to worry about.
The case we are going to look at is R (CJ) and SG v SSWP (ESA)  UKUT 0324 (AAC)
Mandatory reconsideration (MR) was introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and requires a claimant to request that the DWP review a benefit decision before they can lodge an appeal with the tribunal. A request for MR must be made within one month of the decision and an application to the tribunal within one month of the negative MR decision.
CJ and SG were women with serious health problems who were refused employment and support allowance and made late applications to challenge the refusal decisions. In both cases it has subsequently been established that the refusals were wrong and the claimants should have been receiving benefit. However, in both cases the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions initially refused to change the decisions and refused to let a tribunal consider whether that was correct.
The question that arose before the Upper Tribunal was what happens if a claimant does not request MR within the one month period. Are they then unable to apply to the tribunal? The Secretary of State’s position was that a claimant can request that the MR time limit be extended but if refused their only option is the judicially review that refusal. Failing a successful judicial review they are effectively cut off from the tribunal.
The Upper Tribunal considered that, if the Secretary of State’s position was correct, that a significant number of claimants who were entitled to benefits would not receive them. It recognised the impact of mental health, legal aids cuts and decreasing assistance on the ability of benefit claimants to comply with deadlines such as these.
The UT, chaired by Chamber President Mr Justice Charles, found the DWP’s position was unlawful. It would improperly make the Secretary of State ‘gatekeeper to the independent tribunal system’.
The correct position, as declared by the UT, is that where a claimant makes a mandatory reconsideration request at any time within 13 months of the original decision, they will, if dissatisfied, subsequently be entitled to pursue there challenge to a tribunal.
So what does this mean for people who have missed the DWP's one month deadline for requesting a Mandatory Reconsideration?
This ruling means that the DWP will be acting unlawfully if they refuse a request for a Mandatory Reconsideration because it has been requested more than one month after the date of the decision letter.
So, you can ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration at any point within 13 months from the date of the original decision and the DWP should accept it. Also, because of this, you should not worry unnecessarily if you cannot meet the DWP's unlawful one month deadline.
We would suggest that if your request for a Mandatory Reconsideration is going to be made more than one month after the original decision date, you should refer to the the above case using the case name; "R (CJ) and SG v SSWP (ESA)  UKUT 0324 (AAC)"
As always if you want to discuss any aspect of a potential Mandatory Reconsideration, please speak to one of our advisers.
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