Terminally-ill benefit claimants are demanding an end to re-assessments – and here’s a very good reason

Commemoration: These flowers were laid in a commemorative protest against the Department for Work and Pensions’s treatment of sick and disabled people, leading to their deaths.

People with terminal illness have explained why ministers must end the “arbitrary and outdated” rules that force many of them through a “demeaning” and “insensitive” benefit assessment process, according to Disability News Service.

But if you want the best reason, look no further than the following story from Welfare Weekly:

“A distraught and angry wife took her husband’s ashes to court in a heartbreaking attempt to finally seek justice for a man who had worked all his life before becoming ill.

“Ann Dale was determined to prove the DWP was wrong to deny her husband Albert vital disability benefits, which may have helped to ease the family’s suffering and financial concerns in the run up to his death.

“Albert, 64, suffered from a number of debiliating illnesses, including obstructive pulmonary disease and type 2 diabetes, but was twice denied benefits by callous DWP officials.

“However, he sadly lost his battle for life before an appeal could be heard. Ann, 59, was determined to find justice for her husband, so when a letter arrived informing her of the court date she was eager to have her day in court.

“Commenting on how the DWP handled Albert’s benefit claim, Ann said: ‘He was so upset. He kept saying “they’re calling me a liar”.’

“’He paid in all his life and he’d never claimed a penny. And when he did claim, he received nothing.’

“She added: ‘They’ve created this atmosphere saying people are scrounging, but that’s not true. They are targeting the most needy, it’s cruel.

“The court of appeal agreed that the DWP were wrong to refuse Albert Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and he was postumously awarded both the daily living (£87.65) and mobility (£61.20) components of PIP. The court also backdated the PIP payments to November 2018, which will be paid to his family.”

According to the DNS report, “Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rules define a terminal illness as being when a person’s death can be “reasonably expected” within six months. This means that many people who are terminally ill but cannot prove they probably only have six months or less to live cannot claim benefits under DWP’s special rules for terminal illness.”

Isn’t that exactly what happened to Mr Dale?

It continues: “Those that do not qualify are forced through a ‘burdensome and time-consuming’ process, and sometimes are even forced to attend inappropriate work-focused interviews under the new universal credit benefit system, while many see their claims rejected or awarded at the lower rate.

“Now the new report, Six Months to Live?, compiled by the charity Marie Curie and published by the all party parliamentary group for terminal illness, says the DWP rules are ‘unfit for purpose… outdated, arbitrary and not based on clinical reality’.”

That’s an all-party Parliamentary group publishing this report, by the way. Members of Parliament.

They want DWP to alter the rules so a claimant can be said to have a terminal illness if a medical expert says they have a progressive condition that can reasonably be expected to cause their death. This might have saved the Dale family a considerable amount of distress.

They want such claimants to have their benefits reviewed only after 10 years, not the current three, with DWP simply contacting the claimant’s GP to confirm that their situation remains the same.

And they want the DWP to stop its own assessors overturning the evidence of health experts who have stated that a claimant has a terminal illness – for obvious reasons.

Fine ambitions.

There’s only one problem: The DWP.

All the department had to say about the proposals was: “We’re looking at how we can improve our processes and in the meantime we continue to work with charities to help terminally ill people access the support they need.”

This is bureaucracy-speak for: “We’re quite happy that people are suffering and dying in extreme anxiety. We’re not changing anything except by Act of Parliament. You do-gooders can spin on it.”

I’m sure you can think of a few choice responses to that.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.


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