Children's handbook Scotland
Chapter 2: Claims, decisions and challenges
This chapter covers:
1. How to claim benefits and tax credits (below)
2. Decisions and delays ()
3. Challenging decisions and complaints ()
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 AA1, available from the attendance allowance (AA) service centre (tel: 0800 7310 122; textphone: 0800 731 0317), or download a claim form from www.gov.uk.|
|Best Start grant||See www.cpag.org.uk/scottish-benefits for details of how to claim when they become available.|
|Budgeting loan||Claim online at www.gov.uk, or on form SF500 available from your local Jobcentre Plus office or download a claim form from www.gov.uk.|
|Carer’s allowance||Claim online at www.gov.uk or download form DS700 (or Form DS700(SP) if you get a retirement pension) from www.gov.uk, or available from the Carer’s Allowance Unit (tel: 0800 731 0297; textphone: 0800 731 0317).|
|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: 0800 121 4600; textphone: 0800 121 4523), or download a claim form from www.gov.uk.|
|Employment and support allowance||If you come under the universal credit (UC) system, claim by phoning 0800 328 5644 (textphone: 0800 328 1344). If you do not come under the UC system, claim by phoning 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888). You can download a claim form from www.gov.uk.|
|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, if you come under the UC system, by phoning 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888).|
|Pension credit||Claim by phoning the pension credit claim line (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 0800 169 0140 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.|
Claim online at www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit. If you need support to claim, telephone 0800 328 5644 (textphone 0800 328 1344).
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.
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.
|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 ), 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 UC, 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 PIP or 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.|
In prescribed circumstances, up to one month.
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 ) and check whether you could get a short-term advance, interim payment or payment on account.
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 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 ). 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.
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. The local authority should automatically do this. You should not have to request this payment.
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.
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.
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 ).
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.
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 pA00.
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 ) 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 a late application is refused, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal provided it is within the absolute time limit of 13 months.
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. 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. A late appeal can be accepted by the First-tier Tribunal if it is fair and just to do so.
CB/GA Reg 28(1) and (2) CB&GA(DA) Regs
Other benefits rr12 and 23(2) and Sch 1 TP(FT) Rules
TC ss23(2) and 39(1) TCA 2002
. . . more
© Child Poverty Action Group