Checklist when appealing a social welfare decision
If you are unhappy with a decision of the Department of Social Protection, you can make an appeal. The Social Welfare Appeals Office handles appeals about most social welfare payments.
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.
Before you make an appeal
Is the payment or scheme you wish to appeal covered by the Social Welfare Appeals Office?
You can find a list of payments 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 section of the Department of Social Protection that dealt with your application, but you cannot bring it to a formal appeal.
Are you within the time limits for making an appeal?
You must appeal within 21 days of the date of the decision letter.
If your application is late, you must give the reasons why it is late. Appeals Officers do not have to accept late applications.
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.
Preparing your case
Why do you not agree with the Department of Social Protection's decision?
In your appeal you must:
- State why you think the decision was not correct
- Include copies of any evidence and documents you want to be considered (you should keep your original documents)
- Enclose a copy of the letter you got from the Deciding Officer or Designated Person that informed you of the decision
You should arrange your documents in date order and if using photocopies of original documents, make sure they are legible.
You can find case studies of previous social welfare appeals decisions on the Community Law & Mediation website.
Making your appeal
You should complete a Notice of Appeal form (pdf) and submit it with your documents within 21 days of receiving the decision letter.
Remember, the Notice of Appeal form should contain:
- Your name, address and date of birth
- Your Personal Public Service Number
- Information about the decision you are appealing, including a copy of the decision letter
- Any facts and points that support your appeal that the decision made in your case was wrong
- Any other documents that support your appeal, for example, copies of letters from your doctor or social worker, or other letters from the Department of Social Protection
You can contact your local Citizens Information Centre for help with this or any part of your appeal.
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
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 form.
Did you get a letter requesting you to attend an oral hearing?
In some cases, the Appeals Officer may wish to talk with you before they make a decision. In this case, you will be invited to attend an oral hearing.
Don't worry - an oral hearing is a good opportunity for the Appeals Officer to get to know your case in more detail. You can bring a representative, for example a friend or trade union official, to the hearing with you for support or assistance.
Did you take note of the date, time and location of the hearing?
Be sure to arrive on time to your 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.
Social welfare appeal decisions
You will be given a decision on your case
If you attended an oral hearing, you should get a decision on your case within 2 or 3 weeks.
The Appeals Officer will write to both you and the Department of Social Protection to tell you their decision and the reasons for it. If your appeal is not successful, the Appeals Officer will explain why.
If your appeal is unsuccessful
Generally, an Appeals Officer's decision is final.
However, a decision can be revised in the following circumstances:
- An Appeals Officer may revise their decision if new evidence or facts, or any relevant change of circumstances, comes to light after a decision is made
- The Chief Appeals Officer may revise an Appeals Officer’s decision if a mistake was made in relation to the law or facts of the case
In either case, you must submit a written statement explaining why you are seeking a review.
You may also seek a judicial review of the Appeals Officer's decision in the Courts, but only on a point of law.
The Office of the Ombudsman can also examine complaints about the actions and everyday administrative activities of the Social Welfare Appeals Office.
You can read more about how to appeal a social welfare decision.