Children's handbook Scotland
Chapter 2: Claims, decisions and challenges
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Chapter 2: Claims, decisions and challenges

This chapter covers:

1. How to claim benefits and tax credits (below)

2. Decisions and delays (Cross reference)

3. Challenging decisions and complaints (Cross reference)


1. How to claim benefits and tax credits

Child benefit, guardian’s allowance and tax credits are administered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Statutory adoption pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory shared parental pay are administered by your employer, but any dispute is dealt with by HMRC. Housing benefit, council tax reduction and the Scottish Welfare Fund are administered by your local authority and health benefits by the NHS. All the other benefits referred to in this Handbook are administered by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The table explains how to claim benefits and tax credits.

Benefit/tax credit How to claim
Attendance allowance Claim on Form AA1A, available from the attendance allowance (AA) service centre (tel: 0345 605 6055; textphone: 0345 604 5312), or download a claim form from www.gov.uk.
Budgeting loan Claim on Form SF500 available from your local Jobcentre Plus office or download a claim form from www.gov.uk.
Carer’s allowance Claim on Form DS700 (or Form DS700(SP) if you get a retirement pension), available from the Carer’s Allowance Unit (tel: 0345 608 4321; textphone: 0345 604 5312; email cau.customer-services@dwp.gsi.gov.uk), or download a claim form from www.gov.uk or apply online.
Child benefit Claim on Form CH2, available from the Child Benefit Office (tel: 0300 200 3100; textphone: 0300 200 3103), or download a claim form from www.gov.uk.
Council tax reduction Contact your local authority to check how to make a claim.
Disability living allowance (under 16) Claim on Form DLA1A Child, available from the disability living allowance (DLA) helpline (tel: 0345 712 3456; textphone: 0345 722 4433), or download a claim form from www.gov.uk.
Employment and support allowance You are usually expected to start your claim by phoning a Jobcentre Plus contact centre (tel: 0800 055 6688; textphone: 0800 023 4888), or you can download a claim form from www.gov.uk.
Funeral expenses payment Claim on Form SF200, available from your local Jobcentre Plus office, or download a claim form from www.gov.uk or phone the Bereavement Service (tel: 0345 606 0265; textphone: 0345 606 0285).
Guardian’s allowance Claim on Form BG1, available from the Guardian’s Allowance Unit at the Child Benefit Office (tel: 0300 200 3101; textphone: 0300 200 3103), or download from www.gov.uk. Claims should be sent to the Guardian’s Allowance Unit (see Appendix 1).
Health benefits – eg, dental care To claim on the grounds of low income, complete Form HC1, available from Jobcentre Plus offices and NHS hospitals, download a claim form from www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk or telephone 0131 275 6386.
Healthy Start food vouchers and vitamins Claim on the form in the Healthy Start leaflet HS01, available from maternity clinics and some doctors’ surgeries, or the Healthy Start helpline (tel: 0345 607 6823), or download a claim form at www.healthystart.nhs.uk.
Housing benefit   Some local authorities allow claims by telephone, online or by email. Otherwise, claim by using the form that your local authority has issued and return it to the office designated for that purpose by the local authority.
Income support You are usually expected to start your claim by phoning a Jobcentre Plus contact centre (tel: 0800 055 6688; textphone: 0800 023 4888), or you can download a claim form from www.gov.uk.
Jobseeker’s allowance You can claim online at www.gov.uk/jobseekers-allowance/how-to-claim or by phoning 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888).
Pension credit Claim by phoning the Pension Service (tel: 0800 991 234; textphone: 0800 169 0133).
Personal independence payment Claim by phoning the personal independence payment (PIP) claim line (tel: 0800 917 2222; textphone: 0800 917 7777).
Scottish Welfare Fund Contact your local authority to check how to make a claim.
Statutory adoption pay No claim form required, but you must give your employer the required notice and information.
Statutory paternity pay No claim form required, but you must give your employer the required notice and information.
Statutory shared parental pay  No claim form required, but you must give your employer the required notice and information.
Sure Start maternity grant Claim on Form SF100, available from your local Jobcentre Plus office, telephone 0345 603 6967 or download a claim form from www.gov.uk. The form must be signed by a health professional to confirm that you have received health and welfare advice.
Tax credits Claim both child tax credit and working tax credit on Form TC600, available from the Tax Credit Office (see Appendix 1), or by phoning the Tax Credit Helpline (tel: 0345 300 3900; textphone 0345 300 3909), or online at www.gov.uk/qualify-tax-credits.
Universal credit

Claim online at www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit. If you need support to claim, telephone 0345 600 0723 (textphone 0345 600 0743).


Information to support your claim

You are expected to provide information and evidence to support your claim for all benefits and tax credits. The type of information needed should be explained when you make your claim. You are usually given one month to provide any missing information without its affecting your date of claim. You (and your partner if you are making a joint claim) must usually have a national insurance number when you make a claim, or show you have applied for one.


Backdating

Sometimes it is possible to get your benefit paid from a date before you made your claim, if you met the entitlement conditions during that time. This is called 'backdating'. There are different backdating rules for different benefits. The table below gives a brief outline of the main rules. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for more information.

Benefit/tax credit Backdating
Attendance allowance No backdating.
Carer’s allowance Up to three months. No special reasons required. If you claim within three months of the person you care for being awarded DLA care component (middle or highest rate), PIP daily living component or AA, carer’s allowance can be backdated to the date DLA, PIP or AA was awarded.
Child benefit Up to three months. No special reasons required. Backdating may not be possible, however, if someone else was getting child benefit for the child during the three-month period.
Disability living allowance No backdating.
Employment and support allowance Up to three months. No special reasons required.
Guardian’s allowance Up to three months. No special reasons required.
Health benefits – eg, free dental treatment If you pay for an item that you could have got free or at a reduced cost, you can apply for a refund. You should do so within three months of paying for the item, although this time limit can be extended if you show good cause.
Housing benefit/council tax reduction If aged under the qualifying age for pension credit (PC – see Cross reference), up to one month if you can show continuous good cause. If you have reached the qualifying age for PC and are not on income support (IS), income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA), income-related employment and support allowance or universal credit, up to three months and no special reasons required.
Income support In prescribed circumstances, up to one month, and in other prescribed circumstances, up to three months. Backdating for more than three months is possible if a qualifying benefit, such as DLA, has been awarded and an earlier claim for IS was refused.
Jobseeker’s allowance In prescribed circumstances, up to one month, and in other prescribed circumstances, up to three months. Backdating for more than three months is possible if a qualifying benefit, such as DLA, has been awarded, and an earlier claim for JSA was refused.
Pension credit Up to three months. No special reasons required.
Personal independence payment No backdating.
Statutory adoption and paternity pay Normally you must give your employer 28 days’ notice. If you are not able to do so, and your employer accepts you gave notice as soon as reasonably practicable, statutory adoption/paternity pay can be paid from the date you have chosen to start your adoption/paternity leave.
Statutory shared parental pay  Normally you must give your employer eight weeks' notice before the start of the period for which you want to claim.
Tax credits Up to one month. No special reasons required.
Universal credit

In prescribed circumstances, up to one month.

 


2. Decisions and delays

Decisions about benefits and tax credits are made by decision makers from the relevant authority. You are entitled to written notification of all decisions. Decisions should be made within a reasonable timescale. If there are long delays, you should make a complaint (see Cross reference) and check whether you could get a short-term advance, interim payment or payment on account.


Interim payments and short-term advances

If your claim or payment of child benefit or guardian's allowance is delayed, you can ask for an interim payment. If your claim for another benefit is delayed, you can ask for a short-term advance. The rules do not apply to tax credits, attendance allowance, disability living allowance, personal independence payment, statutory adoption pay, statutory paternity pay or statutory shared parental pay. See Cross reference for the rules about payments on account of housing benefit (HB).

An interim payment of child benefit or guardian's allowance can be made if it seems you are, or may be, entitled to benefit and: there is a delay in you making a claim, including being able to satisfy the national insurance number requirement straight away; or you have claimed it but not in the correct way (eg, you have filled in the wrong form, or filled in the right form incorrectly or incompletely) and you cannot put in a correct claim immediately; or you have claimed correctly, but it is not possible for the claim, or for a revision or supersession request which relates to it, to be dealt with immediately; or you have been awarded benefit, but it is not possible to pay you immediately other than by means of an interim payment.

A short-term advance can be made where there is a delay in dealing with your claim or paying your benefit and, because of the delay, you are in financial need. Financial need means that because you have not received your benefit, there is serious risk of damage to the health or safety of you or of your family.

You cannot appeal to the First-tier Tribunal if you are refused an interim payment or short-term advance. It may be possible to apply for judicial review (see Cross reference). You could contact your MP to see if s/he can help get the decision to refuse you an interim payment or short-term advance reconsidered.

An interim payment or short-term advance can be deducted from any later payment of benefit. If it is more than your actual entitlement, the overpayment can be recovered.


Payments on account of housing benefit

If you are a private or housing association tenant and the local authority has not been able to assess your HB within 14 days, you should receive an interim payment (known as a 'payment on account') while your claim is being sorted out.Footnote The local authority should automatically do this. You should not have to request this payment.Footnote

Some local authorities treat interim payments as though they are discretionary. However, the local authority must pay you an amount which it considers reasonable, given what it knows about your circumstances.Footnote

Interim payments can only be refused if it is clear you will not be entitled to HB, or the reason for the delay is that you have been asked for information or evidence to support your claim and you have failed, without good cause, to provide it.Footnote

If the delay has been caused by a third party (eg, the rent officer, your bank or employer), this does not affect your right to an interim payment. If your local authority has not made a payment on account, you should complain (see Cross reference).

If the local authority makes a payment on account, it should notify you of the amount and that it can recover any overpayment that occurs if your actual HB entitlement is less than the interim amount.

If your payment on account is less than your entitlement, your future HB can be adjusted to take account of the underpayment.Footnote


Crisis grants 

If you are experiencing financial hardship, you could claim a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund to help you with your living expenses. See Cross reference.


3. Challenging decisions and complaints
Appeals

Most decisions about benefit or tax credit entitlement can be challenged by appealing to an independent tribunal. Decisions about Scottish Welfare Fund payments can be challenged initially by requesting an internal review and then by applying to the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman for a further review. Decisions about budgeting loans can be challenged by internal review and then by applying to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE – see Cross reference) for a second-tier review. Decisions about council tax reduction (CTR) can be challenged initially by asking for an internal review (within two months of the decision), and then by applying to the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel (within 42 days of the review decision) for a further review.

Decisions about all other benefits and tax credits apart from housing benefit (HB) can only be appealed against once you have asked for a revision or review (often called a 'mandatory reconsideration'). If you want to challenge a HB decision you can appeal without first having to ask for a mandatory reconsideration. The normal time limit for asking for a mandatory reconsideration is one month from the date of the decision being challenged, or 30 days for tax credits. This time limit can be extended by up to one year if you have special reasons for applying late and it is reasonable to grant your application.

If you are still unhappy with a decision following a mandatory reconsideration, you can appeal to a First-tier Tribunal.

You must appeal about a decision on a benefit within one month of the date of the mandatory reconsideration decision, or within 30 days if it is an appeal about tax credits.Footnote This time limit can be extended by one year from the date the ordinary time limit expired. If your appeal is late, you must give reasons why.Footnote A late appeal can be accepted by the First-tier Tribunal if it is fair and just to do so.Footnote


How to appeal
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