Section 6 – Request for a Redetermination and Appeals
The Social Security Act (Scotland) 2018 provides a right for an individual to challenge a decision made by Social Security Scotland if they believe it is not right. The individual will be able to ask for a redetermination without having to supply further evidence, but Social Security Scotland will take into consideration any new evidence provided.
The focus of the redeterminations approach is on getting the decision right, to have clearly published procedures and timescales for challenging decisions, with meaningful redress, and to have processes in place for Social Security Scotland to put things right quickly where there has been an error.
Unlike the DWP’s Mandatory Reconsideration process that only examines whether the original decision was right or not, Social Security Scotland will put aside the original determination and a different, independent officer will undertake the full process of making a new determination, which will replace the earlier determination completely. The individual will be able to ask for a redetermination without having to supply further evidence, but Social Security Scotland will take into consideration any new evidence provided. If the individual is dissatisfied with the redetermination outcome, or if it has not been completed within the prescribed timescales, then the individual can exercise their right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.
We have designed a redetermination and appeals process which is informed by individuals’ experiences, including their previous experience of the current, DWP process. The Scottish Government has worked closely with Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services in co-designing the appeals process to ensure the individual is at the centre of the process.
6.1 Timescales for the redetermination process
Section 41 (4) of the 2018 Act includes provision to set out the timescales for requesting a redetermination in regulations. In line with the approach taken for Best Start Grant and for Funeral Expense Assistance, we are proposing that a redetermination request relating to LIWHA should be made within 31 calendar days of being notified of the determination. This timescale is the same as the timescale for bringing an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.
If a request is not made within the 31 days allowed, a request for a re-determination can still be considered at any point up to a year after being notified of the original determination, if there is a good reason for the request being made late. In the first instance the Agency will decide whether the reason provided is acceptable. If the request for a late redetermination is refused, the individual will have a right of appeal against this decision to the First-tier Tribunal. Social Security Scotland will take a supportive role during this late request process and will assess every request individually, on a case by case basis.
We propose that, on receipt of a request for a redetermination of entitlement to Low Income Winter Heating Assistance, Social Security Scotland should have 16 working days, beginning with the day Social Security Scotland receives the request, to make the fresh determination. This period is to be counted from the next working day after Social Security Scotland receives a redetermination request in the format required by the Agency. If there is a failure to make the redetermination within the 16 day period, the individual will be informed that they have a right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal against the original determination.
Question 28. Do you agree or disagree with the proposal that clients have 31 days to request a redetermination?
Question 29. If you disagreed, please could you explain why?
Question 30. We have proposed that Social Security Scotland have a period of 16 working days to consider a redetermination of LIWHA. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal?
Question 31. If you disagreed, please could you explain why?
Question 32. Can you identify any potential unintended consequences which we have not considered in these proposals?
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