Checklist when appealing a social welfare decision
Appealing a social welfare decision
If you are unhappy with a decision of the Department of Social Protection (DSP) you can make an appeal. Depending on the type of payment, you appeal either to the Social Welfare Appeals Office or the DSP.
There are a number of stages involved in the appeal process. This checklist outlines these stages and explains the process involved in making an appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.
1. Is the payment or scheme you wish to appeal covered by the Social Welfare Appeals Office?
Most social welfare schemes are covered by the Social Welfare Appeals Office (pdf). If the payment or scheme you wish to appeal is not covered by the Social Welfare Appeals Office, you can ask for a review of the decision by the Department of Social Protection but you cannot bring it to a formal appeal.
2. Are you within the time limits for making an appeal?
Generally you have 21 days following the decision to get your appeal into the Social Welfare Appeals Office. If your application is late, you must give the reasons why it is late. Appeals Officers do not have to accept late applications.
3. Do you need help with making your appeal?
Some voluntary organisations (such as your local Citizens Information Centre) can help you to decide if you have grounds for an appeal. They can help you to prepare your case and may even go with you on the day of your oral hearing.
Prepare your case
4. Why do you not agree with the Department of Social Protection's decision?
Set out why you do not agree with the Department's decision. Get all the documents you need to prove your case. All your documents on the appeal file should be arranged in date order. Where photocopies only are available, they should be of good quality and clearly legible. You may find it useful to read some examples of cases taken to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.
Make your appeal
5. Put in your 'Notice of Appeal (pdf)' with the information you have gathered before the 21day deadline. Remember, the Notice of Appeal should contain:
- Your name and address
- Your Personal Public Service Number
- The decision you are appealing
- Write down all the facts and points that support why you believe the Department's decision was wrong. You should also add any documentary evidence you have, for example, copies of letters from the Department, your doctor or social worker. (If you need help with this or any part of your appeal contact your local Citizens Information Centre.)
- A copy of the letter from the Department with the Deciding Officer's decision
6. Has the Social Welfare Appeals Office confirmed in writing they got your appeal?
You should get a letter from the Social Welfare Appeals Office telling you they have received your appeal. It will contain your Appeal Reference Number. You should put your Appeal Reference Number on all written communication with the Social Welfare Appeals Office. You should also have it to hand if you phone them.
Social welfare appeal hearings
7. Did you get a letter with a decision from the Social Welfare Appeals Office?
The Appeals Officer can make a decision using the information you sent in your Notice of Appeal. However, the Appeals Officer may wish to talk with you before making a decision. In this case, you will get a letter to attend an oral hearing.
8. Did you get a letter requesting you to attend an oral hearing?
You will get a letter asking you to attend an oral hearing if the Appeals Officer wants to ask you more about your case. Don't worry - an oral hearing is a good opportunity for the Appeals Officer to get to know your case in more detail.
9. Did you take note of the date, time and location of the hearing?
Appeal hearings are non-confrontational. The Appeals Officer is there to listen to your point of view and will make a fair decision. If you cannot make the oral hearing contact the Social Welfare Appeals Office as soon as possible so a change of date can be arranged. Make sure you arrive on time.
Social welfare appeal decisions
10. You will be given a decision on your case
The Appeals Officer will notify you of his/her decision and the reasons for that decision in writing. A similar letter will be sent to the Department at the same time.
If there has been an oral hearing, you will get the Appeals Officer's decision within three or four weeks. The Appeals Officer will decide on the appeal and tell you of the decision in writing. A similar letter will be sent to the Department at the same time. If your appeal is not successful, the Appeals Officer will explain why.
11. If your appeal is unsuccessful
An Appeals Officer's decision is normally final. However, an Appeals Officer may revise his or her decision if new evidence, new facts or any relevant change of circumstances come to light after a decision is made. The Chief Appeals Officer may revise a decision of an Appeals Officer if it appears that a mistake was made in relation to the law or the facts. In either case you should submit a written statement of the grounds on which a review is sought. You may also seek a judicial review of the Appeals Officer's decision in the Courts, but only on a point of law.