Care and support guide

Challenging a Carer's Allowance decision

If you were receiving Carer's Allowance and payment has been stopped or you've made a claim for Carer's Allowance and been refused, you can challenge the decision.

The first step is to ask the Carer's Allowance Unit to look at the decision again – this is known as a "mandatory reconsideration". If you're unsatisfied with the outcome of this, you can appeal to an independent appeal tribunal. If you're unhappy about the way your claim has been dealt with, you might also want to make a complaint.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) itself can look at decisions again to check they're correct. If the DWP looks at your decision and stops the benefit, you can also challenge that decision.

Considerations when challenging a Carer's Allowance decision

You can make an appeal to a tribunal against many decisions made about a benefits claim, but in some cases an appeal is not possible. Decisions that can be appealed include whether you are entitled to the benefit, the rate you are entitled to, and whether it can be backdated.

However, you can't appeal decisions such as whether your payments should be suspended, or whether you should receive an interim payment of benefits.

If you want a decision to be looked at again or you have appealed to a tribunal following a mandatory reconsideration, get your evidence together as soon as you can. The evidence could include:

  • notes or a diary about the amount or sort of care you provide
  • copies of letters notifying the person you care for of disability benefits awards 
  • payslips or your contract of employment
  • testimony from family, friends or other carers – for example, confirming dates when you have taken breaks from caring because alternative care was provided 

Challenging a benefit decision can be complicated, and you may find advice or having someone represent you at a tribunal helpful. You can get help finding a solicitor or adviser from your local law centre.

GOV.UK has more information on the process of challenging a benefit decision.

Overpayments of Carer's Allowance

Overpayments of Carer's Allowance do happen. For example, if Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Attendance Allowance (AA) has stopped being paid to the person you are looking after and you don't notify the DWP, this could mean your Carer's Allowance continues to be paid when you are no longer eligible. Sometimes an overpayment may be the result of an administrative error on the part of the DWP.

You will not have to pay the overpayment back unless you failed to disclose information or misrepresented information. If you believe you are being wrongly asked to repay money, seek advice from a welfare benefits specialist or a legal advice service.

Many overpayments are caused by innocent mistakes. Just because there has been an overpayment does not mean you have acted dishonestly.

However, if the DWP believes you have committed benefit fraud, it could try to prosecute you. Alternatively, you may be given the option of paying a penalty, which would be 30% of the overpayment. If you are accused of acting dishonestly or fraudulently, you'll need legal advice as soon as possible.

Failure to disclose important facts related to your benefit claim

If you fail to inform the DWP about an important fact about yourself or your circumstances, this is called "failure to disclose". If this causes the DWP to make a wrong decision about your claim, you could be overpaid benefit and the DWP may recover the overpayment from you.

Anything that affects your entitlement to the benefit could count as an important fact, but this will depend on your particular circumstances.

You are expected to disclose a fact if the DWP told you it is the type of fact you need to report and you knew of the fact in question. If you are challenging a failure to disclose overpayment decision, you should explain:

  • the nature of the information you gave to the DWP in relation to the benefit
  • where you sent the information and when
  • whether you have any proof that you provided information, such as receipts for documents handed in at a benefit office, or recorded delivery receipts

Even if the DWP did not tell you the fact that caused the overpayment was one that should be disclosed, you still need to inform the DWP of any changes that might affect entitlement to benefit.

Page last reviewed: 15/01/2015

Next review due: 15/01/2017

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