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Making a complaint

You can use this information if you’re complaining about Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independent Payment (PIP) to the Department for Work and Pensions or the PIP assessor. If you live in Northern Ireland, the process is different.  

If you live in Scotland and are claiming either Child Disability Payment (CDP) or Adult Disability payment (ADP), Scotland has its own separate system for applying for disability benefits, appeals and complaints.

Making a complaint will not get a decision on your claim changed, to do that you need to challenge the decision.

Complaining to the DWP

If you’re unhappy with the way your Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claim has been dealt with or if you think the decision is taking too long, you can complain to the DWP. The DWP's website has a guide to their complaints procedure, which you will have to follow.

  • Usually, you start your complaint by writing to the office dealing with the claim. You can make a complaint by phone, but writing makes sure that you have a record of what you’ve said.
  • If you don’t get a response within the time you’ve asked, or if you’re still unhappy with the response, you the next step is to ask for the complaint to be passed to a Complaints Resolution Manager. This is someone who is responsible for making sure that complaints are looked at and dealt with properly. They should let you know they’ve received your complaint within 15 working days and should contact you again when they’ve finished their investigation.
  • If you still can’t get a satisfactory response to your complaint, you can take things further by complaining to the senior manager of operations for the DWP. You should be told how to do this when the complaints resolution manager responds to your complaint. The senior manager will ask for an independent internal review of your complaint and provide a full and final response within 15 working days.

If at any point in the process the DWP take longer than they should to get back to you, send a copy of your complaint to your MP and ask them to contact the DWP on their behalf to find out what is taking so long.

Complaining about a PIP assessment

If you’d like to complain about anything to do with your PIP assessment, you need to complain to the assessment provider. You can complain about the assessment itself:

  • how you were treated
  • whether the assessor listen to you
  • if any adjustments you asked for weren’t provided.

You can also complain about the report, for example, if the assessor:

  • wrongly recorded your answers
  • made unjustified assumptions about you or your level of hearing.

You will have to follow their complaints procedure to the end before you can take your complaint any further.

To make a complaint about IAS you can email: [email protected].

To make a complaint about capita: [email protected].

If you are not sure who carried out your assessment, you can check the postcode map.

If you live in Northern Ireland

If you live in Northern Ireland and are complaining to the Department for Communities the procedure is slightly different.

  • Contact the office that is dealing with your case and give them the details of your complaint.
  • If you’re not satisfied with their response, raise your complaint with the Office Manager responsible. The office dealing with your case will give you their name and address.
  • The Office Manager will acknowledge the complaint within two working days following receipt and your complaint should be answered within ten working days following receipt.
  • If you feel that the Office Manager has not settled your complaint, you can write to the Director. The reply you receive from the Office Manager will tell you who to contact.

The Department will acknowledge the complaint within two working days and The Director will answer your complaint within ten working days

PIP assessments in Northern Ireland are carried out by Capita. If you’re complaining about a PIP assessment, send your complaint to [email protected].

What to include in your complaint

Whoever you are complaining to its important to make sure that you explain what’s gone wrong and why you think this is wrong. For example, "I made my claim on 1 February, which is four months ago, and I still haven't had a decision. I think this delay is unacceptable" or “the assessor was rude and did not let me finish my answers”.

You should also explain what you want DWP to do about it. For example, "I’d like my claim to be decided in the next two weeks".

Try to keep your complaint as short as possible and keep to the main points you want to make. Its ok to use bullet points.

What if you're still unhappy?

If you’ve been through all of the DWP’s, Dept for Communities’ or assessment providers’ complaints stages and are still unhappy, you can ask the Independent Case Examiner to look at your complaint.  The Examiner is completely independent.

You must contact them within six months of getting the final reply from the DWP or assessment provider, and you must send a copy of the final response to your complaint.

If they accept your complaint, they’ll look at what happened and what the DWP, Dept for Communities or assessment provider did about it. If they think they should have done more, the Examiner will ask them to put matters right.

If you’re unhappy with the response from the Independent Case Examiner, you can ask your MP to send your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Referencing your legal rights in your complaint

As a deaf young person or the parent or carer of a deaf child, you have a range of legal rights to make sure you aren’t discriminated against because of deafness. We have lots of information about the:

It’s often helpful to raise issues with your legal rights when making a complaint by referencing the Equality Act 2010 in England Scotland and Wales, or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Disability Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 in Northern Ireland.

Issues such as access to services, like not providing a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter for an interview or insisting on deaf people using the phone, are clearly related to the Equality Act and the Disability Discrimination Act. Other issues, such as poor decisions, may not seem to be related to your legal rights at first, but decisions made by the DWP are often wrong due to bad assumptions by the DWP and the third-party health professionals that conduct PIP assessments.

For example, it’s quite common to see in decision letters that a deaf person with hearing aids or cochlear implants is assumed by the DWP and the health professionals to be able to hear well. This may be because the person looking at the claim has assumed that hearing aids and implants replicate normal hearing, without realising that they have many limitations and weaknesses.

Raising a legal rights issue may not only help to resolve your case, but hopefully will lead to changes in DWP practice that will benefit all deaf people.