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Challenging Department for Work and Pensions benefit decisions - Ask for an explanation

If you think a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefit decision is wrong, you may be able to get it changed.

Ask for an explanation

You don’t have to ask for an explanation of the decision. However, you may want to ask for this if you are unsure whether the decision is right or if you want more information to help you challenge the decision.


Contact the benefit office using the contact details on your decision letter and ask for a written explanation for the decision.

You should also tell them why you think the decision is wrong as they may be able to change it without needing to go any further.
If your first language isn't English, the benefit office should provide an interpreter to explain the decision.


If you telephone the benefit office, make a note of:

  • The date and time you call

  • Who you speak to

  • What is said.

This may come in useful if you want to try to get the decision changed.

Time limits

You should ask for an explanation of the decision as soon as possible, as there are strict time limits if you want to go on to challenge the decision.
If you request a written explanation of the reasons for the decision within one month of the date on the decision letter, the time limit to challenge the decision will be extended.

The new limit will be:

  • One month and 14 days from the decision date (if the written reasons are provided within one month of the decision date); otherwise

  • 14 days from the date the written reasons are provided. This only applies if the reasons were not provided in the decision letter you received. If you are not sure, it's best to stick to the usual time limits.

Possible outcomes

An explanation will usually be provided by telephone but must be in writing if you requested a written explanation.

If you ask for a written explanation for the decision, you will usually receive this within 14 days.

After hearing or receiving the explanation, you may agree with the decision or you may think the decision is wrong.

If you think the decision is wrong, for example, because it was based on information that was wrong or they did not have all the information, you should tell them. They may be able to change the decision and send you a new decision letter without you needing to go any further, or they can explain what you can do next.

If you still think the decision is wrong

If you still think the decision is wrong, you can ask for it to be looked at again. You have to do this before you can appeal it to an independent tribunal.

Reviewed: April 2022

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