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Communtity Law Manual | Work & Income | Going to a Benefit Review Committee

Challenging Work and Income decisions: Reviews and appeals

Going to a Benefit Review Committee

Social Security Act 2018, ss 391–394, Sched 7

Except for decisions reviewed by Medical Appeal Boards, reviews of Work and Income decisions are heard by Benefit Review Committees.

A Benefit Review Committee is made up of:

  • two Work and Income staff members (they can’t be from the same service centre as the original decision-maker), and
  • a community representative appointed by the Minister of Social Development.

Before the review hearing

After you apply for the review, Work and Income will first carry out an internal review of the decision. The staff member who made the decision will prepare a report for the manager of the relevant service centre to consider.

If this internal review does not change the decision, Work and Income will prepare a report for the Benefit Review Committee and a hearing will be scheduled. The hearing should happen within four weeks after you applied for the review.

You’ll be sent a copy of Work and Income’s report so that you can prepare and present a response at the Committee’s hearing.

What happens at a Benefit Review Committee hearing?

You can bring a support person, a benefit-rights advocate or a lawyer to the hearing with you if you want. You can also have a lawyer appear for you if you don’t want to go yourself.

A Benefit Review Committee hearing is a formal process where a Work and Income representative presents their case, and then you (or your advocate or lawyer) respond. Committee members can ask questions. After the formal part, everyone except the Committee members leaves and the Committee makes its decision.

Usually the hearing is held in the Work and Income service centre that you usually go to.

The Benefit Review Committee should notify you of its decision within two weeks after the hearing.

Can I appeal a decision of a Benefit Review Committee?

Social Security Act 2018, ss 395–399

Yes. If you’re not satisfied with the Committee’s decision, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeal Authority (see below, “Right of appeal to independent tribunal: Going to the Social Security Appeal Authority”).

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