Social Welfare Appeals Office - Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do if I am not happy with a decision made by the Deciding Officer?
If you are dissatisfied with a decision made about your social welfare claim, you have a right to appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.
What is the Social Welfare Appeals Office?
The Social Welfare Appeals Office operates independently of the Department of Social Protection. It decides on appeals cases where a person is not satisfied with a decision of the Department. It is headed by a Chief Appeals Officer and has its own Appeals Officers who decide on appeals.
The Social Welfare Appeals Office headquarters are in D'Olier House in Dublin, although Appeals Officers work at many locations around the country.
Should an oral hearing be required, the hearing will be held at a central location as near as possible to where you reside.
How do I make an appeal?
If you are dissatisfied with a decision of the Deciding Officer, you should make an appeal as quickly as possible, but in any event, within 21 days of receiving the decision. The Chief Appeals Officer has discretion to extend this period in certain circumstances.
You can make an appeal by completing a form (called Form SWAO 1), which you can get from your local Social Welfare Office, or by downloading the SWAO 1 form from the 'Your Appeal' area on the Social Welfare Appeals Office website www.socialwelfareappeals.ie.
Alternatively, you may set out the grounds of your appeal in a letter or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The most important thing is that you set out your case fully.
You may send your appeal directly to the Chief Appeals Officer or your local Social Welfare Office will be happy to pass the form or letter on to the appeals office for you. If your are sending it directly, you should address it to:
Chief Appeals Officer
Social Welfare Appeals Office
In your appeal you should state your name, your address, and your Personal Public Service (PPS) number and enclose:
Important:If you wish to obtain any information or copies of documents that the Deciding Officer used in reaching the decision, you should contact the relevant area of the Department of Social Protection and let them know that you need the information in order to make an appeal.
What happens next?
When your appeal is received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office, you will be sent a letter of acknowledgement. The appeal must then be sent to the Deciding Officer who made the decision for her or his comments on the points you have made. The Deciding Officer may change the decision in your favour at this stage because of new evidence you have provided to support your appeal. If the decision is not changed, your appeal will be returned to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for consideration by an Appeals Officer.
The Appeals Officer will make a decision based on the evidence available and taking account of the scheme qualifying conditions which are set out in social welfare legislation.This may be done on the basis of the written evidence only or you may be invited to attend an oral hearing. If you request an oral hearing it will always be granted, unless it is clear that there is nothing to be gained from such a hearing.
Why is an oral hearing held?
The Appeals Officer may decide to hold an oral hearing to obtain more details about your case or to clarify points which are at issue in relation to the decision which is under appeal.
You may wish to request an oral hearing because you wish to elaborate on some aspect of the evidence or you consider that you can better make your case if you appear in person to present your evidence.
Appeals Officers make every effor to keep oral hearings as informal as possible
In what circumstances would my request for an oral hearing not be granted?
Your request for an oral hearing will not be granted where there is no prospect that additional information could be provided that would affect the outcome of your appeal. Examples of such types of appeal include the following:
Is there a charge for making an appeal?
There is no charge for making an appeal. If you have to travel to attend an oral hearing, the Social Welfare Appeals Office will make a payment to you (through your bank account) for reasonable travel expenses. You can also request compensation for any loss of earnings if you have to take time off work to attend an oral hearing.
Do I need to have a Solicitor?
There is no need for you to have a solicitor if you wish to make an appeal although you may be represented by a solicitor or another person if you wish. The Appeals Officer may make an award to that person if they represent you at an oral hearing. However this award is limited to expenses for actually attending the hearing. Any legal costs must be paid by you.
When will I find out about the decision on my appeal?
The Social Welfare Appeals Office will send you a letter, setting out the Appeals Officer's decision in writing. This will be done as quickly as possible following consideration of your appeal.If your appeal is not successful, the Appeals Officer will explain why. A copy of the decision is also sent to the Department of Social Protection.
Is the Appeals Officer's decision final?
The Appeals Officer's decision is normally final and conclusive but may be appealed to the High Court on any question of law. However, it may be subject to review in the following circumstances:
In making a request for a review of the decision made by an Appeals Officer you must enclose the new evidence, or, if you are seeking a review by the Chief Appeals Officer, you must state the reasons why you believe a mistake has been made regarding the law or the facts.
Where can I get more Information?
For further information, contact:
Social Welfare Appeals Office
Telephone: Locall 1890 74 74 34
FAX Number: 01-6718391
This section is intended as a guide only and does not purport to be a legal interpretation
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