The Beehive building

Applying for a review of any income support or pension decision made by the Ministry

What is a ‘Review of decision?

If you disagree with any decision made by the Ministry in relation to your income support, pension or any application you have made, and want that decision to be re-looked at, you can apply for a review of that decision. Your application will start the formal ‘Review of Decision’ process.

You must however apply for a review of decision within 3 months of the decision being taken. If you apply for a review after 3 months of the decision being taken, you will need to advise the Ministry of the reasons for the delay in applying for a review. The ‘Review of Decision’ process in such cases is slightly different and is called the ‘Out of Time Review Process’. This process is also explained below.

How to start the 'Review of decision' process

It's always a good idea to speak to the Ministry staff member who made the decision you disagree with first. The staff member will explain why the decision was made and can put things right if there has been a mistake. The matter could be resolved without you having to go through the formal review process.

You can apply for a review of decision in any of the following ways:

  • Complete a Review of Decision application form and send it or take it into your local site.
  • Send a letter to the site advising that you disagree with a decision and want a review. You would have to clearly state the decision you disagree with and the date you heard about the decision.

Who can apply for a Review of Decision?

  • You as the person applying for a benefit
  • Your advocate or agent (who has signed permission to act on your behalf)

What happens next?

As soon as the review form or your letter or email asking for a review of decision is received by the Ministry, the ‘Review of Decision’ process is started. The review process goes through two stages:

  1. the Internal Review stage
  2. the Benefits Review Committee Hearing stage.

About the Internal Review

When you apply for a Review of Decision, the Ministry will first take another look at the original decision before the case goes to the Benefits Review Committee. The information based on which the Ministry made the original decision will be reviewed and if anything has been missed the original decision may be changed. The reviewer will complete an Internal Review report of the decision that you want reconsidered, and make a recommendation to the Service Centre Manager of the site where the decision was made.

The Service Centre Manager will make a decision on the internal review.

The manager will decide to either:

  • Uphold the original decision
  • Uphold the original decision in part or
  • Overturn the original decision.

If the Internal Review outcome is not favourable to you or only favourable in part, the decision goes before a Benefits Review Committee Hearing without any further request from you.

If the Internal Review fully overturns the Ministry's original decision the issue will generally be resolved and the process will end here.

A guide to the first stages of a Review of Decision can be viewed at:

The outcome of the Internal Review

The Ministry will write to you, telling you whether the original decision has been overturned, upheld or upheld in part.

If the original decision is overturned, the site you have been dealing with, will put things right.

If the decision has been upheld or upheld in part, the matter will automatically go to a Benefits Review Committee for a hearing, without you having to do anything else.

Benefits Review Committee Hearing

Where a decision goes to the Benefits Review Committee for a hearing, a Report to the Benefits Review Committee is completed by the Ministry. The information used in the Review of Decision submission (or Internal Review) will generally form part of the report.

A copy of this report to the Benefits Review Committee will be provided to you and you will be advised of the details of the Hearing like the venue, date and time of the Hearing. You would also be encouraged to attend the Hearing to present your side of the case to the Benefits Review Committee.

Please remember that because the matter has been referred to the Benefits Review Committee, it does not mean that the matter cannot be re-looked at, if new information is provided. Therefore, if you have some new information which you feel may be relevant to the decision under review, you may present this information to the Ministry at any time.

A Committee has three members. Two members are Ministry of Social Development representatives who were not involved in the making of the original decision, and the third is a Community Representative appointed by the Minister of Social Development. Committee members would not have had any prior involvement in the case to be heard.

The Committee will act independently of the Ministry and make a decision within the law. The Committee will look at the relevant Law and Policy and how this should be applied in the particular situation and whether the decision was fair and reasonable in line with the relevant Law and Policy.

The outcome of the Benefits Review Hearing

After the Hearing, the Chairperson of the Benefits Review Committee will write to you advising you of the Committee’s decision. A copy of the report of the Benefits Review Committee will also be sent to you.

If the Committee agrees with you and the Ministry’s decision is overturned, the site you have been dealing with, will contact you and put things right.

If you do not agree with the decision of the Benefits Review Committee

If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Benefits Review Committee, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeal Authority. The Social Security Appeal Authority (SSAA) is an independent judicial tribunal administered by the Ministry of Justice. The form required to apply for a SSAA Hearing and other brochures are available through the Ministry of Justice website. However their contact details would also be advised to you when the Chairperson of the Benefits Review Committee conveys the decision of the Committee to you.

The Ministry would file a report setting out all the relevant information relating to the benefits Review Committee decision. This report is known as the 12K Report, which refers to Section 12K of the Social Security Act 1964 and a copy of this report would also be sent to you before the Hearing.

Student Allowance Reviews

Students wishing to review a decision of the Ministry relating to a Student Allowance can do so, but Student Allowance Reviews follow a process which is different from benefit/pension reviews. This is because the two review processes are governed by different laws.

You can read more about applying for a review of a Student Allowance and the Review process for Students on the StudyLink website.

Out of Time Review Process

If you apply for a review after 3 months of the decision being taken, you will need to advise the Ministry of the reasons for the delay in applying for a review. The Benefit Review process in Out of Time cases is slightly different. The Internal Review by the Ministry is completed as per the normal process.

However, if it is decided to go to the Benefits Review Committee for a hearing, the Ministry first completes an ‘Out of Time Report to the Benefits Review Committee’ (BRC). This report to the BRC does not contain any substantive issue and highlights only the reasons if any, for the delay in applying for a review 3 months after the original decision being made.

The BRC will have an initial Hearing to decide whether or not to hear the case on substantive issues. At this Hearing the BRC will consider whether there was any justification for the delay in applying for a review and can decide to allow or to decline a further Hearing on substantive issues.

If the BRC declines to hear the case on substantive issues, then the case is closed and the matter ends here. In case you are not satisfied with this decision, you can take up the matter with the Office of the Ombudsman, whose details would be given to you along with the letter conveying the decision.

If the BRC allows the Hearing on substantive issues then a second report will be written up by the Ministry and the BRC would meet again for a Hearing. From then on, the Benefits Review process would follow the normal process as described above.

Withdrawal of a Review of Decision application

If at any time during the process, you change your mind and do not want to go ahead with the review, you can ask for the review application to be withdrawn. You can do this by contacting the Benefits Review Committee co-ordinator.

Timeliness Standards

The Ministry is committed to providing you with a high quality service and have certain set timeliness standards for completing the Review of Decision process. The timeliness standards are as follows:

Completion of the Internal Review: Within 5 working Days of the date when the Review process was started.

Hearing of the case by a Benefits Review Committee, where applicable: Within 25 working Days of the date when the Review process was started.

Final decision and completion of the Review of Decision Process: Within 32 working Days of the date when the Review process was started (or within 54 working days in the case of Out Of Time Review cases)

Performance Standards

The Ministry has also prescribed certain standards of quality when dealing with your review applications. During a review of decision process, therefore, you can expect:

  • to be treated with dignity and respect
  • have your culture, values and beliefs respected
  • have your privacy protected
  • to be treated fairly and have your views considered
  • transparency in the way the Ministry makes a decision
  • to have the Ministry communicate with you at every stage of the process.

Contact the service centre involved

To contact Work and Income, Community Services Card, Benefit Control Unit, or Data Match phone 0800 559 009.

Decisions heard by the Medical Appeals Board

If you don’t agree with a decision made by the Ministry on medical grounds, generally your appeal will be heard by the Medical Appeals Board.

Getting free legal and benefit advice in your region

In case you want to seek independent legal advice in regards to your review application, there are organisations that can help you.

These are information sheets about organisations that you can go to for free, independent legal and benefit advice.

Client Representative Groups

In case you want the support of somebody to deal with the Ministry in Review cases on your behalf, you can utilise the services of Advocates or Advocacy Groups. An advocate deals with the Ministry on your behalf and will only do what you ask them to do. This consent must be in writing unless the person is present with the advocate.

Information for trespassed clients

Information for people who have been served a Trespass Notice from one or more Ministry of Social Development offices.

The Beehive building

Documents

Information for those involved with Benefits Review Committees

Community representative information pack

Expense claim form

Panel members decision check sheet

Community representative role description

Issue escalation form

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