We explore the Danish welfare system with a special needs child
Text: Martina Popadakova / Sara R. Newell
If your application for assistance is denied, and you believe that an error has occurred in your case, or if you disagree with an assistance ruling (e.g. if the granted assistance does not meet your child’s support needs), you have the right to appeal. It is important to remember that the municipality must provide guidance on how to appeal and relevant deadlines for appealing. Although this is required by law, it is unfortunately not always carried out in practice. We strongly advise that you insist on receiving all assistance rulings in writing - both when the municipality rules in your favour, as well as when it rules against you.
How to start the appeal process
You must submit your written appeal to the municipality, for the ruling of your case to be re-evaluated. You must meet the deadline for submitting an appeal, which is 4 weeks from the date you received the verdict on your application for assistance. If you received insufficient guidance on how to appeal, this could possibly be used to argue that your appeal cannot be rejected, even if it has been filed after the deadline.
Once you have submitted your appeal, the municipality must re-evaluate their ruling within 4 weeks. If they do not comply with this deadline, they must inform you why they are unable to do so, and when you can expect to receive a ruling. Unfortunately, it is relatively common for municipalities not to comply with this requirement, so you should expect to have to check in regularly with your caseworker to inquire about your appeal status.
If the municipality does not rule in your favour, your appeal will be forwarded to the National Board of Appeal (ANKESTYRELSEN - AST), who will review your case before making their own ruling. You should follow up with your caseworker, as well as with the AST. This ensures that the AST has received your appeal. Furthermore, we advise that you request your case files from the AST to make sure that all relevant documents have been sent from the municipality to the AST. You can find more information here: www.ast.dk (in Danish).
The AST is required to acknowledge receipt of your appeal and to inform you about the time frame for reviewing your case. You are also entitled to know the name of the case officer who will be handling your case. You should be aware that it can take anywhere from 6-24 months for your case to be processed by the AST. All rules made by the AST are final, as an administrative court does not exist in Denmark.
"You are entitled to know the name of the case officer who will be handling your case."
How to appeal an assistance ruling
There are requirements for how you submit your appeal and what it must contain. You can appeal both verbally and in writing - but we strongly advise that you always submit a written appeal. You can do this as a written letter or by e-mail. Make sure you include the date, save a copy for your records, and that you receive an acknowledgement of receipt from the municipality, and that they also provide you with information on when you can expect an appeal ruling.
Our step-by-step guide to writing an appeal
1. You should include a clear and concise explanation of:
What it is you are appealing.
Reasons why you think the ruling is wrong.
What it is you want to be changed.
Critique of the reasoning that the ruling contains.
2. If applicable, state other relevant requests:
Access to your case files.
Examination of one of the parties to legal proceedings.
Request a meeting to discuss your case.
Attach a copy of the ruling that you are appealing.
For Lige Vilkår (For Equal Conditions) is a national association, for families of children with special needs due to disability or chronic illness. For Lige Vilkår offers a variety of services for association members (membership costs 150 DKK per year), such as online and telephone counselling and guidance, legal advice, a support person who can accompany you to meetings with the municipality, or contact to family support networks: www.forlige.dk/om-os/kontakt
If you are unsure how to write and submit your appeal, you can use DUKH´s general template that can be found on their website. DUKH – The Independent Consultancy Scheme in the Disability Area, can also help the appeal process. For more information, go to www.dukh.dk and search for “Få hjælp til at klage” (Get help to appeal).