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What if I want to complain about my Disability Living Allowance decision?

Photo: Find out what to do if you want to make a complaint about a DLA decision

If you’re unhappy with the way your Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claim has been dealt with or if you think the decision is taking too long, or you disagree with a decision you can complain.

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.

However you make your complaint it’s important to make sure that you explain:

  • what’s gone wrong and why you think this is wrong – for example, you might say "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".
  • what you want Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to do about it – for example, "I’d like my claim to be decided in the next two weeks".

If you don’t get a response within the time you’ve asked, or if you’re still unhappy with the response, you can 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 your child's complaint is that their case is taking too long, and it's been more than three months since they claimed, they could ask their MP to contact the DWP on their behalf to find out why their claim is taking so long. 

If you’ve been through all of the DWP complaints stages and are still unhappy you can ask the Independent Case Examiner to look at your complaint.

You must contact them within six months of getting the final reply from the DWP, and you must send a copy of the DWP’s response.

If they accept your complaint, they’ll look at what happened and what the DWP did about it. If they think the DWP should have done more, the Examiner will ask them to put matters right. The Examiner is completely independent of DWP.

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 the Equality Act in your complaint

It’s often helpful to raise Equality Act issues when making a complaint. Issues such as access to services (e.g. not providing a signer for an interview or insisting on deaf people using the phone) are clearly related to the Equality Act. Other issues, such as poor decisions, may not seem to be related to the Equality Act at first, but they’re often due to wrong assumptions by the DWP.

For example, it’s quite common to see in decision letters that a deaf person with hearing aids or cochlear implants is assumed 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 an Equality Act issue may not only help to resolve your case, but hopefully will lead to changes in DWP practice that will benefit all deaf people.