Did you know you that you are more than twice as likely to be successful at a social security, housing benefit or tax credits appeal, if you have someone experienced to represent you?
If you are appealing a social security, housing benefit or tax credits decision we provide you highly skilled representation. Our advice is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL. All Advice North West staff are professionally trained. We put you, the client, first and always.
We have a proven track record of high quality representation and high success rates.
We aim to work with you to help you present your case at an Appeal Tribunal.
In order to gain maximum benefit from our service it is essential that you understand what we are able to do and what we expect from you.
In each of our offices we have trained tribunal representatives. We help you to challenge social security, housing benefit and tax credit decisions through mandatory reconsideration, appeal and where appropriate to The Social Security Commissioner.
We can also refer your case to the Child Poverty Action Group or Law Centre NI if your case merits consideration at the Court of Appeal or requires a Judicial Review at the High Court.
- Complete a NOA1 Form or Appeal Letter to lodge your appeal and apply for an Oral hearing of your appeal, and, if appropriate, help you agree to the release of your Medical Records.
- Study the Appeal Papers issued to you by The Department. These must be left into the bureau immediately after they are received by you.
- We will meet with you for an initial interview to prepare your case after you arrange the appointment. This will be arranged when you leave in your Appeal Papers. We will endeavour to hold this appointment within 2 weeks of the Appeal Papers being left into bureau (diary permitting)
- If necessary, help you to request medical evidence from your G.P. and/or other health professional/s. We will also advise on what type of medical evidence is appropriate.
- If necessary, help you to seek additional supporting evidence from any other source. We will also advise on what other sources may support your case.
- We will hold a second preparation appointment upon receipt of notification of the date of your appeal hearing. The appointment will be made by you via Reception. This should be made 2 to 3 weeks before the Appeal Hearing.
- If necessary request or help you to request a postponement or adjournment of your case.
- Represent and Advocate on your behalf at the Appeal Tribunal.
- If appropriate, request a copy of the Record of Proceedings and Reasons for Decision.
- In appropriate circumstances apply for leave to appeal on a point of law to a Social Security Commissioner.
- If the case so merits, represent you in all matters before the Social Security Commissioner.
- In all cases give advice on your options and next steps upon conclusion of your appeal.
What we ask you to do to assist us
- Give, to us, as soon as possible after you have received them, the Appeal Papers issued to you by The Department. Failure to do so can delay your appeal and impact on our ability to represent you effectively.
- You will receive an invitation to elect from an Oral or a Written Hearing and if appropriate the release of your medical records. It is important that you elect for an Oral Hearing as this will most likely increase your chances of success. If you require assistance to do this it will be provided at the Bureau.
- Make a preparation appointment with our Reception Desk when leaving in your submission papers. These Papers must be left into the Bureau as soon as you receive them.
- Provide us with up to date details of your address and contact details. Should these change during the course of the appeal process you must inform us of any change.
- Attend all appointments or let us know if you are unable to attend. If you fail to attend appointments it may affect our ability to represent you effectively.
- Provide us with all relevant details of your circumstances which may impact upon your case.
- Let us know straight away whenever you receive your time/date/venue for the Appeal Tribunal. At this time you must arrange the second preparation appointment at the Bureau Reception Desk.
- Although you may have already consented to the release of your medical records it is your responsibility to contact your G.P. to ensure that they have been sent to The Appeal Service. You should contact your G.P. within 7-10 days of the Appeal Hearing to make sure they have been sent.
- If your G.P. notes have not been sent to The Appeal Service you must make arrangements with your G.P. surgery to collect these records on the day of the Appeal so that they are available for the Hearing. If you encounter any difficulty you must contact the Bureau.
- Attend the Appeal Tribunal Hearing. If you are unable to attend the Appeal Hearing, for any reason, you must let us know immediately so that we can take steps to request an adjournment or postponement.
Did You Know?
From 25 May 2018 you can access your Medical Records for free under The General Data Protection Regulations and the Data Protection Act 2018.
To do so you need to make a Subject Access Request (SAR) for these records.
If you make a request for a medical report to be created, or for interpretation of information within a medical report/record, this will fall under the Access to Medical Report Act (AMRA) – as these both require new data to be created, which is out with the scope of the GDPR and Subject Access Requests, a fee can be charged.
Having access to your medical records can be an advantage to you at a Social Security appeal tribunal. It can be worthwhile to request this information at an early stage if you receive a negative initial decision.
The following Commissioner Decisions are examples of the level of expertise of our Tribunal Representatives dating back to 1992. The Northern Ireland Digest of case-Law database at www.communities-ni.gov.uk/services/northern-ireland-digest-case-law) contains all decisions from January 2000 and most of the important decisions from past years. The database is maintained by Decision Making Services (www.communities-ni.gov.uk/contacts/decision-making-services) who represent The Department in applications to the Commissioners by preparing written submissions and attending Hearings.
Download the Commissioner Decisions PDF.