Challenging Work and Income decisions: Reviews and appeals
Right of appeal to independent Tribunal: Going to the Social Security Appeal Authority
If you disagree with the decision of the Benefit Review Committee, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeal Authority (“the Appeal Authority”).
The Appeal Authority is an independent Tribunal within the Ministry of Justice. It is a three-member panel. The Appeal Authority’s decisions are available online at justice.govt.nz/Tribunals/social-security-appeal-authority/decisions.
How do I lodge an appeal?
When the Benefit Review Committee gives you their decision, they should give you information on how to appeal to the Social Security Appeal Authority.
You must lodge your appeal within 60 working days after you’re notified of the Benefit Review Committee’s decision.
You are treated as receiving notifications of the decision if:
- a decision is made, and
- you’re notified of the decision, and
- you’ve received the notice.
It’s also a good idea to inform Work and Income.
What happens after I lodge my appeal?
Work and Income will assign the appeal to someone from their Appeals Team who will prepare a report for the Social Security Appeal Authority.
The report states the facts, relevant parts of the law (including court cases) and Work and Income’s reasons for its decision. The report also includes copies of application forms, supporting documents, records of interviews with you and others (if applicable) and copies of any court decisions the report refers to.
You will be assigned a case manager for your appeal who will set up a pre-hearing meeting with you to talk through the process of hearing and any of your accessibility needs. The Appeals Authority has hearings in Wellington, but you can request to have the hearing take place remotely or in a less formal setting.
The Appeal Authority will set a date and time for the hearing, which will usually be three to four months after your appeal was lodged.
What happens at the Appeal Authority’s hearing?
You can be represented by an advocate or a lawyer, or you can represent yourself. Legal Aid is available to pay for your lawyer if you can’t afford one (see: “Legal Aid”).
The hearings are private. The Appeal Authority will redact any of your personal information when publishing the decision. You won’t be able to be identified by anyone who was not involved in the hearing.
The Appeal Authority can decide not to hold a hearing and to make a decision based on reading the relevant files and documents (this is called making a decision “on the papers”).
Can I appeal the decision of the Appeal Authority?
If the Appeal Authority decides against you, you can appeal to the High Court, but only on a question of law. In other words, you can’t dispute the facts.
You will need to lodge your appeal within 10 working days after the Appeal Authority’s decision.
It’s strongly recommended to get a lawyer to help you with an appeal to the High Court. You could apply for Legal Aid, unless you have access to a lawyer you can afford or a lawyer who will take your case for free (see: “Legal Aid”).