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9 Welfare benefits

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1. Introduction

2. If you have a low income

3. If you are having a baby or adopting a child

4. If you have children to look after

5. If you are unemployed

6. If you are ill and can't work

7. If you have a disability

8. If you are just starting work

9. If you have retired or are about to retire

10. If your husband, wife or civil partner dies

11. Where do I claim?

12. What must I do when I claim?

13. What if I disagree with a decision about my claim?

14. What if I've been badly treated?

You may be unhappy with an agency that’s been dealing with your benefits because:

  • you think you’ve been treated unfairly;
  • you think you’ve been given bad advice; or
  • the service has been poor, for example because of delays or errors.

You can complain about the agency first by writing to it to give it a chance to explain and apologise or compensate you. Each agency has a complaints procedure and you can ask for information about this.

You can complain whether or not you also want to challenge a decision.

If you are unhappy with an agency’s response to your complaint, you may be able to take your case further:

  • If you are unhappy about how your local council has dealt with your benefits, contact the Local Government Ombudsman.
  • If you want to complain about Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (for tax credits, Child Benefit, Child Trust Fund or National Insurance problems), contact The Adjudicator's Ofice.
  • For complaints about the Department for Work and Pensions, contact your Member of Parliament, who can help you apply to the Parliamentary Ombudsman (the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration).
  • You can also do this if you have a complaint about HMRC, but the Ombudsman would normally expect you to take your complaint to the Adjudicator's Office first.

However, these bodies can look only at cases where your application or your complaint has not been dealt with properly. You cannot complain to them simply because you disagree with a decision.

15. The Human Rights Act

16. Further help

17. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Rachel Hadwen, a specialist in welfare rights.

Leaflet Version: April 2019

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