A DISABLED single mother who was stripped of her disability allowance and specially designed car after her benefits form was received late has blamed the Department for Work and Pensions for the error.
Sharon McWalter, of Alexander Grove, North Finchley, has been told she must wait up to 24 weeks for a face-to-face assessment before her benefits and Motability car are reinstated, after she sent her Disability Living Allowance renewal form just a few days late.
However, Ms McWalter, inset, who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which affects the joints, says she was given permission by a DWP adviser to send in her application late. And she has hit out at the government department for leaving her and her eightyear- old daughter Sophie trapped in their home. “It’s awful,” she told The Press. “I cannot get out of my house unless I absolutely have to and even that takes a whole lot of organisation and a lot of money. I feel trapped.”
Ms McWalter said she had been supposed to send back her completed DLA renewal form on February 23, but only remembered two days beforehand. She immediately rang the DWP and offered to fax the document, but was repeatedly told by an adviser that a note would be made on the system indicating that her late form would be accepted.
“She said it was all going to be fine,” said Ms McWalter. “I asked her over and over again.”
However, in March she received a letter saying that due to its lateness, her application was being treated as a new Personal Independence Payment claim, which must be assessed in person, and her car and disability benefits were withdrawn.
Ms McWalter, who suffers “uncontrollable” pain if forced to walk more than 50 metres, said that she must now pay carers to collect her daughter from school and is relying on handouts from foodbanks. “Sophie has become really anxious and is really worried every day about who is going to pick her up from school,” said the single mum. “I just think the DWP should listen to the conversation I had with the adviser and realise that they were the ones who made the mistake.”
Despite repeated requests by Ms McWalter and The Press, the DWP has refused to release a recording or transcript of her conversation with the adviser. A spokesman said: “The proper procedures was followed in this case. If people don’t complete the forms on time, we can’t process their claim.”
From Barnet Today: http://www.barnet-today.co.uk/news.cfm?id=16943&headline=Mum+loses+car+and+disability+benefits+after+%E2%80%98DWP+mistake