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Review of Decision Flowchart- long description

There are 3 stages to the Review and Appeal Process.

Stage 1 - Internal Review

This is an administrative process only. When the applicant applies for a Review of Decision, it is appropriate for the Ministry to take another look at the original decision before the case goes to the Benefits Review Committee (BRC).

The original decision should be revisited. Consider the following:

  • Relevant legislation and policy
  • The information presented at the time
  • Any new information to hand
  • Reasons for the original decision
  • The reason the applicant is not happy and any points raised by them or the client representative
  • Any other appropriate means of assistance available to the applicant

The Ministry staff member checks the decision and makes a recommendation to the manager who will make a decision on the Internal Review.

The manager will decide to either:

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

Stage 2 - Benefits Review Committee

When the Internal Review outcome is not favourable or only favourable in part for the client, the decision goes before the Benefits Review Committee without any further request from the applicant.

Where the Internal Review fully overturns the Ministry's decision the issue will generally be resolved. However the applicant may still want to go to the Benefits Review Committee. This is their right and it can occur even though there may be no issue for the Benefits Review Committee to consider.

Where a decision is to go to the Benefits Review Committee for a hearing, a Report to the Benefits Review Committee needs to be completed. The information used in Internal Review will generally form part of the Benefits Review Committee report.

Just because the matter has been referred to the Benefits Review Committee does not prevent the matter being re-looked at if new information is provided.

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 should not have had any prior involvement in the case to be heard.

The Committee must 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.

Stage 3 - Appeal Authority hearing

Where the original decision is upheld (or partially upheld) by the Benefits Review Committee, the applicant may apply for an appeal for the matter to go before the Social Security Appeal Authority.

The Social Security Appeal Authority (SSAA) is an independent judicial tribunal administered by the Ministry of Justice.

The Ministry is required to file a report to the SSAA setting out all the relevant information relating to the Benefits Review Committee decision. A copy of this report is sent to the applicant. The Ministry's Appeal Officers (part of Legal Services) prepare the Report to the SSAA.

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