Challenging Work and Income decisions: Reviews and appeals
Right of appeal to independent Tribunal: Going to the Social Security Appeal Authority
Social Security Act 2018, ss 395–4003, 407, 451
If you’re not satisfied with the decision of the Benefit Review Committee, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeal Authority.
The Authority is an independent Tribunal within the Ministry of Justice. It is a three-member panel.
Note: The Social Security Appeal Authority’s decisions are available online, at: www.justice.govt.nz/Tribunals/social-security-appeal-authority/decisions
Lodging your appeal
Social Security Act 2018, s 400
You must lodge your appeal within 60 working days (basically three months) after you’re notified of the Benefit Review Committee’s decision.
It’s a good idea to inform Work and Income also.
What happens after I lodge my appeal?
Social Security Act 2018, ss 392, 394, 400, 401, 403, 407, 451; Social Security Regulations 2018, reg 249
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 is an extensive one – it 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.
The Appeal Authority will set a date and time for its hearing, which will usually be three to four months after your appeal was lodged.
What happens at the Appeal Authority’s hearing?
Social Security Act 2018, Sched 8, cl 10A
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 the chapter “Legal Aid and other legal help”).
The hearings are not open to the public. Although the Appeal Authority’s decisions are published, this is done in such a way that 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 Social Security Appeal Authority?
Social Security Act 2018, ss 405, 406
If the Appeal Authority decides against you, you can appeal its decision to the High Court, but only on a question of law.
You will need to lodge your appeal within 10 working days (two weeks) after the Appeal Authority’s decision.
You should apply for Legal Aid for this, unless you have access to a lawyer you can afford or a lawyer who will take your case for free. (See the chapter “Legal Aid and other legal help”.)