Mum in Braintree told she’s too healthy for sick benefits on the day she dies

A MOTHER battling a serious lung condition was told she no longer qualified for benefits on the day she died from her illness.

Dawn Amos, 67, died as a result of suffering chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a collection of lung diseases. It left her with difficulty breathing, unable to walk for long periods of time, dress herself or do daily tasks independently.

She received attendance allowance from the Department of Work and Pensions to help with the cost of her personal care.

Heartbroken husband Mick Amos, 64, of Masefield Road, Braintree, discovered a letter sent from the department two days after his wife’s death. It notified Mrs Amos that her allowance was being withdrawn based on ‘treatment, medication, symptoms and test results’.

It had been sent on the day, November 27, Mr Amos had taken the decision to turn off Dawn’s life support machine.

Mr Amos, a self-employed window cleaner, said: “It’s disgusting and heartbreaking. We had to turn her machine off. How ill do you have to be? On the day she died I came downstairs and she couldn’t breathe properly so I phoned the ambulance, who said if she gets worse call us back. As soon as I got off the phone she collapsed and I was on the phone again. She had stopped breathing and I was doing CPR while I was on the phone to the ambulance.”

Dawn was taken to Broomfield Hospital, where she was put on a life support machine. Mr Amos and Dawn’s daughter Karina Mann agreed to turn off the machine the same day.

Karina, 42, of Vernon Way in Braintree, said her mum had received attendance allowance for six months before they asked to reassess her.

She said: “Obviously she was ill enough for the benefit because we had to watch her die.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said, “Our thoughts are with the family of Mrs Amos. The decision was based on evidence which included the opinion of Mrs Amos’ own GP.”

http://www.clactonandfrintongazette.co.uk/news/north_essex_news/14185620.Mum_told_she_s_too_healthy_for_sick_benefits_on_the_day_she_dies/

PIP applicant takes legal action over DWP’s inaccessible claim process

A disabled campaigner who has been refused permission to apply for a vital disability benefit in a way that is accessible to him has begun legal proceedings against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Graham Kirwan has been told that he is unable to communicate via email as he attempts to claim personal independence payment (PIP).

Kirwan had previously been a long-term claimant of disability living allowance (DLA), but had his payments suspended when he failed to respond to letters asking him to apply for PIP, letters that he says he never received and that would not have been accessible to him anyway.

Kirwan, who is partially-sighted, has computer software that can magnify text, but it does not generally work with scanned or PDF documents.

He has been told by DWP to use the charity Citizens Advice to help with his application for PIP – which is gradually replacing working-age DLA – but he wants to fill in the form himself, so he can take responsibility for the accuracy of the answers.

And he points to DWP guidance that states that email is an acceptable alternative for communication for people with his access needs.

Kirwan says that while most people can fill in their PIP claim form with a pen costing just 10 pence (DWP provides a free envelope and postage), he has spent £1,200 equipping himself with the necessary technology to communicate effectively, as well as facing annual costs of about another £700.

He said: “In this instance the disability is being deliberately created by the DWP. I have no communication disability​ when allowed to use email and assistive software.

read more here: http://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2015/12/pip-applicant-takes-legal-action-over-dwps-inaccessible-claim-process/?utm_source=DisabledGo+Blog&utm_medium=facebook

Sickness benefit medical test caused massive increase in mental illness, research shows

“The programme of reassessing people on disability benefits using the Work Capability Assessment was independently associated with an increase in suicides, self-reported mental health problems and antidepressant prescribing. This policy may have had serious adverse consequences for mental health in England, which could outweigh any benefits that arise from moving people off disability benefits.”

Read more here: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/11/17/sickness-benefit-medical-test-caused-massive-increase-in-mental-illness-research-shows/

and the original research document here: http://m.jech.bmj.com/content/early/2015/10/26/jech-2015-206209.full

Edinburgh Jobcentre shut down as claimants insist “Advocacy is not a crime”

(Just to make it clear the DWP, in both their published  guidance to job centre advisors and in their answers to freedom of information requests, says that people have the right to be accompanied by someone to the jobcentre, whether a friend, family member, or representative. – Argotina)
“SOLIDARITY DEMO CALL FOR 9am MONDAY 14th SEPTEMBER AT HIGH RIGGS JOB CENTRE

The entire ground floor of Edinburgh’s High Riggs Jobcentre was closed down for almost three hours on 10th September as Jobcentre managers called in police and refused to permit a jobseeker to exercise his right to be accompanied to an appointment. Members of Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty defied threats of arrest and stayed in the jobcentre to support the claimant and the ECAP advocate.

Now ECAP are calling a solidarity demo for this Monday 14th at 9am at High Riggs Jobcentre, when the jobseeker, Adam, will attend his rearranged appointment, once more accompanied by an ECAP advocate.  ECAP say: “We will not be intimidated by the DWP bullies, G4S security or the police.  We will assert claimants’ right to be accompanied.  The DWP themselves state: “Claimants accessing Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits and services can have someone to accompany them to act on their behalf..””

JOBCENTRE DENY RIGHTS

Jobseeker Adam had been called to the Jobcentre for an appointment to review his Jobseekers Agreement.  Having suffered months of harrassment from the Jobcentre, who have been trying to force him onto workfare schemes, Adam asked ECAP rep Mike to come with him.  Having that very morning received the distressing news that his brother was having to undergo a serious emergency operation, Adam asked Gerry, the Jobcentre adviser, if his review could be postponed and if he could just quickly sign on and go to the hospital to be with his brother.

The adviser completely ignored this request and instead aggressively demanded that ECAP rep Mike produce photographic ID to prove who he was.  This despite the fact that Mike has not only attended dozens of interviews in High Riggs, including with senior managers, but had even accompanied Adam to an appointment with the same adviser, Gerry, very recently.   When Mike replied that there was nothing requiring the provision of ID in the DWP documents which confirm the right to representation, Gerry stormed off.  G4S security demanded the ECAP rep leave – he refused.  Management called the police.

SOLIDARITY

At this point ECAP members, who had been leafleting outside, entered the jobcentre to give solidarity to Adam and Mike, and demanded to speak with the manager.  Soon police descended on the Jobcentre and the management closed off the entire ground floor.  For some time the whole Jobcentre was shut, with steel door roller shutters barring claimants from entry.   Despite frequent requests for a meeting, manager Linda Gibb refused any dialogue.  Meanwhile members of ECAP’s solidarity network, alerted by an emergency call-out, gathered at the Jobcentre in growing numbers.

This incident follows the arrest of advocate Tony Cox at Arbroath Jobcentre where he was accompanying a vulnerable jobseeker.  Supporters are due to besiege Forfar Sheriff Court when Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony faces trial on 13th October.

read more here: http://edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/182

The DWP is now largely being held to account not by opposition politicians, not by well-funded charities such as Disability Rights UK, but by activists with virtually no income.

This is from the ‘Benefits and Work’ newsletter.

THE NEW FORCE IN CLAIMANTS RIGHTS
What is particularly notable about these news items is that they were all brought about by tiny, private sector or unfunded groups or individuals.

The ESA death statistics campaign is the work of Vox Political blogger Mike Sivier.

The bogus sanction claimants were revealed by Welfare Weekly – a one-person online news aggregator.

And the UN investigation has come about due to the tireless work of activist group Disabled People Against Cuts.

Add to this the story of the 49 secret DWP investigations into claimant deaths, revealed earlier this year by John Pring’s Disability News Service, and a startling truth emerges.

The DWP is now largely being held to account not by opposition politicians, not by well-funded charities such as Disability Rights UK, but by activists with virtually no income.

One of the main weapons of these new campaigners is the Freedom of Information Act. But we know that the government is already taking steps to try to dramatically curtail the use of the Act.

How long before the government – or its multinational partners – also decide to take action against the campaigners themselves?

Support for ever more harsh benefits cuts depends on people accepting that claimants are bad and the DWP is good. These campaigners are inconveniently proving that the opposite is true.

Tory welfare cuts to force single mums back to work when youngest child turns three

THE new rules, to be introduced in 2017, have been slammed by the SNP as targeting vulnerable women

Campaign groups have warned that Scotland does not have sufficient childcare arrangements to cope with single parents workign full-time when their children are at such a young age.

SINGLE mums will be forced to look for work when their youngest child turns three under the latest Tory welfare cuts to be debated today.

The SNP last night branded the controversial proposals further proof that the UK Government is deliberately targeting vulnerable women in their attack on benefits.

And campaigners warned Scotland does not have sufficient childcare arrangements in place to allow all single parents to work full-time when their children are such a young age.

One parent families are currently entitled to benefits with no strings attached until their children start school aged five.

But proposals contained in Chancellor George Osborne’s poor-punishing budget would lower this age limit to three and require parents to begin to look for work if they want to keep getting the money.

read the rest  of this story here: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/tory-welfare-cuts-force-single-6099323

Man who had sickness benefits axed wins appeal – months after he died

Graham Shawcross, 63, had Addison’s disease which left him exhausted – Yvonne said the stress of being told he was fit to work led to his heart attack

A widow was horrified when a letter arrived for her late husband saying he had won his appeal against his sickness benefits being axed.

Graham Shawcross, 63, had potentially fatal Addison’s disease, but was ruled fit to work last November and had his £400-a-month incapacity benefit halted.

He died of a heart attack in February this year.

Yvonne, his wife of 23 years, claims the stress of losing his benefits, and of launching an appeal against the decision, caused his death. She told Department of Work and Pensions bosses Graham had died, but they still invited him to attend an appeal hearing – and wrote again a few days later to say he was eligible for Employment and Support Allowance for at least the next 24 months.

Yvonne of Radcliffe, Manchester, said: “Graham would surely be alive today if it was not for the stress. The month before he died, you could tell he was going downhill. He was completely not himself, his stress levels were going through the roof and he was upping his steroids to higher levels every day. Graham was talking about his appeal constantly and writing the details out dozens of times a day.

“He was a proud man and what upset him most was that he thought they were calling him a liar.   It was just heartbreaking.”

In November, Graham received a letter from the DWP informing him he was no longer entitled to incapacity benefit after an assessment found he was fit for work. But Graham, who did not receive a single point when his capability to work was assessed, suffered from Addison’s disease – a rare adrenal gland disorder which affects hormone production.

The condition, treated with steroid medication, causes exhaustion, muscle weakness, dizziness, fainting and cramps and can lead to adrenal crisis, which can be fatal. Mr Shawcross had suffered from Addison’s disease since the age of 21 but had worked for forty years before ill-health got the better of him.

After appealing the decision at the end of January, he was summoned to a hearing in Bury in June 19 – despite Yvonne informing the DWP of his death. On June 24, a second letter arrived stating his appeal had been granted and he was eligible for Employment and Support Allowance for at least the next 24 months.

Mr Shawcross, father to 30-year-old Gary and Rebecca, aged 21, volunteered as the treasurer of the Bolton Road estate tenants and residents association. His wife, who runs a school kitchen, said when he attended his medical assessment with Atos Healthcare he brought with him a large folder about his condition, which was not consulted.

She added: “If Graham could have worked he would have loved to work – he did anything for anybody. As it turns out, he did not even need to go through all the stress, because he won his appeal. But it was all for nothing.”

Bury South MP Ivan Lewis said: “Graham Shawcross was a remarkable man, who for nearly 40 years, worked hard despite having a chronic illness. “His treatment at the hands of this callous Tory-led government was scandalous.

“It exposes the fact that many of the changes they are making hit vulnerable people who deserve better in a civilised society.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/man-who-sickness-benefits-axed