Practice Directions support the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) Rules of Procedure and provide guidance about what the SBT expects of the parties and, in turn, what the parties can expect from the SBT. They assist in understanding the Rules.
Interim assistance may be available to persons who are waiting for a hearing before the SBT and are experiencing financial hardship. Interim assistance includes basic financial assistance or income support and drug and dental benefits, and may include other items in exceptional circumstances.
Deciding an application for interim assistance is separate from deciding the appeal. Whether or not a person is successful in obtaining interim assistance will not affect the decision on the appeal.
Where the SBT is satisfied that the Appellant will suffer financial hardship while waiting for an appeal to be heard and decided it may order interim assistance be paid to the Appellant.
If the Appellant loses at the hearing, any interim assistance paid will be assessed as an overpayment and may be recovered by the Administrator/Director.
Financial hardship is a primary consideration in assessing whether interim assistance should be granted. Although the SBT does not pre-judge a case at the interim assistance stage, it does not grant interim assistance to a person who is clearly categorically ineligible under the legislation. It must consider legislation as well as relevant court decisions in assessing applications for interim assistance.
Interim assistance orders must be followed unless reversed or amended by the SBT.
While an Appellant is receiving interim assistance all conditions of eligibility must be met, other than a condition relating to the issue under appeal.
An application for interim assistance can be made to the SBT by following the process set out in Rule 3.4 of the SBT's Rules of Procedure. The Appellant must complete the "Application for Interim Assistance". This is section 4 of the Appeal (Form 1). Failure to give complete information may result in delay in processing the request for interim assistance.
An Appellant may apply for interim assistance at any time prior to a decision on the merits of the case being released by the SBT.
If interim assistance is granted, an Order will be sent to the Administrator/Director.
All orders for interim assistance are time limited with an opportunity for extension where appropriate.
An Appellant who requires an extension of interim assistance must follow the process set out in Rule 3.7.
If an extension request is not made before the interim assistance Order expires, a new application will be required. This may result in a delay or break in the assistance received by the Appellant.
A party who objects to a decision regarding interim assistance shall write to the Registrar of the SBT within 7 days of receiving the Order, setting out detailed reasons why the decision of the SBT should be reversed or amended. A copy of the letter should be sent to the other party.
The objection should be based on financial eligibility. This is not the time to argue the merits of the appeal.
The SBT will decide the objection as quickly as possible and will send a written response to the parties.
If the Administrator/Director believes that an interim assistance Order should be reversed or amended, objections must be filed with the SBT upon receipt of the Order. If the Administrator/Director does not object immediately then the Order must be implemented without delay.