Disabled man died of heart attack after being told of ESA sanction threat

A disabled man died of a heart attack, just an hour after being told that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was threatening to stop paying his out-of-work disability benefits.

Alan McArdle, who had previously been homeless but was living in council accommodation in Slough with the support of a charity, told the friend who had read the DWP letter to him: “They’ve sanctioned my money,” before he collapsed.

The government contractor responsible for finding him work, the discredited outsourcing giant Maximus, had reported him to DWP for failing to attend appointments intended to move him towards work, as part of the Work Programme, despite being told about his severe ill-health.

Read more here: http://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2015/11/disabled-man-died-of-heart-attack-after-being-told-of-esa-sanction-threat/

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‘Go back to work’, DWP tells man who suffered four heart attacks

A TENANTS’ champion who has been told he must go back to work despite having four heart attacks says he has been left “financially destitute” and shivering cold with only a duvet to keep him warm.

The 61-year-old man – a longstanding District Management Committee activist who did not want to be named – has been fighting for his Employment Support Assessment (ESA) benefits to be reinstated after they were removed following a “work capability assessment” on September 9.

The man has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, heart disease and suffers from “anxiety and stress”, according to his appeal letter, which adds that his condition has “deteriorated considerably” since the test.

“I am financially destitute after this decision was made,” the man said in his letter, seen by the New Journal. “I am unable to heat my home and pay for my heating costs, and because of this my health has been affected. I have received no social security benefit since the decision was made and I am living in a home where my only form of warmth is a duvet cover.”

On Tuesday, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) dismissed his appeal saying they did not have to take this into consideration and are satisfied that his condition is not “uncontrollable or life-threatening”.

The Camden tenant has for several years received £315 a fortnight of ESA – benefits for people who are too ill or disabled to work – but it was immediately halted after his assessment.

The assessments used to be carried out by Atos, but the company and the government has cut ties and they are now run by an American company called Maximus.

The man said: “From when you sit down everyone there is being assessed. They had written down how long I was sitting down in the waiting room – it was 33 and a half minutes. They had written down whether I had signed my name and whether it was legible. I was treated like a second-class citizen.”

He has spent time being fed through a tube in hospital this year for his pancreatitis but has been told to fill out 50-page forms to retain his benefits.

Dorian Courtesi, spokesman of the Camden Assembly of Tenants, which has been supporting the man, said: “Apparently the tenant is fit to work even though they have had four heart attacks this year, two operations due to bowel cancer, suffers from diabetes, is diagnosed with heart disease and has fluid on his lungs due to their heart condition.” He added: “Iain Duncan Smith says he wants to put job advisers at the entrances of food banks. Why not just go one step further and place a funeral adviser on the doorstep instead? This government’s disregard of the disabled and sick is truly criminal.”

Read more here: http://www.camdennewjournal.com/dwphampstead

Welfare cuts: Cancer patients face losing up to £120 a month in Government support, warns charity

Macmillan’s concerns come as George Osborne tells MPs that he is ‘comfortable’ with controversial tax credit cuts

Thousands of cancer patients could lose support payments used to pay for daily living costs like heating, transport and special dietary needs because of the Government’s welfare cuts, the country’s leading cancer charity has warned.

Macmillan said the reforms, which would see some cancer patients who are too ill to work losing up to £120 a month in Government support, could push vulnerable people “over the edge financially”.

Currently, sick and disabled people too unwell to work and eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are assigned to one of two groups – the support group, for people with problems so severe they have no prospect of working, or the work-related activity group (WRAG), who have to attend interviews with employment advisors.

Under the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill, WRAG payments, which are designed to enable people who are unwell to pay for extra costs associated with their health condition, will be cut from £102 to £73 a week.

For cancer patients, the money often goes on heating bills, because cancer increases vulnerability to cold; new clothing, often required because of weight loss or to cover swellings or colostomy bags; and extra nutritional food to ensure a healthy recovery.

The Government must reconsider these plans or risk pushing the most vulnerable over the edge financially

Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan

As of February this year, around 3,300 cancer patients were in the WRAG group. Although the changes, due to come into effect in 2017, will only affect new claimants, Macmillan has warned this could quickly lead to thousands of cancer patients missing out.

read more here: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/welfare-cuts-cancer-patients-face-losing-up-to-120-a-month-in-government-support-warns-charity-a6704831.html

Law students had to help a man in debilitating pain fight being declared “fit to work”

Disabled claimants are increasingly vulnerable, with justice more difficult to access, and the need to be reassessed after being declared “fit to work”,

The first Paul Crane knew of having his benefits cut off was when his landlord called up to ask where the rent was.

It was the start of a harrowing time. After ten years of receiving support for debilitating pains – caused when gamma knife radiosurgery to repair a haemorrhage on his brain stem caused radiation damage to surrounding tissue – he had suddenly been declared “fit to work”.

Paul’s life has never been the same since the operation, which repaired the haemorrhage but left parts of his brain and spinal cord permanently damaged. Every day he is haunted by stimuli – light, noise, crowded places – anything that sets off his “excitable nerves” will leave him in agony with migraines, cause numbness and dizziness, or leave part of his face sagging. Even sneezing or tiredness can cause a traumatic flare up.

He says: “Tiredness causes pain and pain causes tiredness. I don’t socialise much, I’ve let people down too many times. I go fishing, which is my only relaxation but even that sometimes is too much”.

Over a decade of suffering and being prescribed a cornucopia of drugs – none of which have fully worked – Paul has learnt to live with the pain. But a new regime at the Department for Work and Pensions, which he says was “like the difference between black and white”, has been hard on him. This was when the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) replaced the Incapacity Benefit, and new work capability assessments (WCA) were brought in to test whether or not claimants were “fit to work”.

“It was as if they were trying to fail me,” he says, “like the system was designed to make me fail. I realised how lucky I had been before. The ESA people looked at me as if to say, ‘Oh God another scumbag’”.

When the news that he had been refused ESA hit him, Paul says he found himself in “a very dark pit”, confused and afraid of what would happen next.

“How could they come to this conclusion? I answered as truthfully as I could and they failed me. I’d just spent two weeks either in bed or on the sofa.”

It’s a painfully common story. Disability rights campaign groups such as the WOWPetition and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) have been pressing the DWP to take notice of the plight of people like Paul, and are fighting for a comprehensive impact assessment of how changes to the benefits system and wider government spending cuts affect people with disabilities.

In August, after months of pressure, the DWP released the official figures for mortalities following “fit to work” verdicts between December 2011 and February 2014, revealing that 2,380 died in that period.

And even more damning, the Avon & Bristol Law Centre (ABLC) revealed that, of a hundred WCA appeal cases taken on by volunteer law students, 95 had been successful.

read more here: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2015/09/law-students-had-help-man-debilitating-pain-fight-being-declared-fit-work

Woman left disabled by child killer Beverley Allitt ordered to repay £23,500 in benefits

Social security chiefs issued the demand after ruling Kayley Asher wasn’t eligible for any financial help because she’d already received compensation for her injuries.

Kayley, 25, was targeted by evil nurse Allitt – dubbed the Angel of Death – while she was in hospital as a 13-month-old baby. Despite the severity of her injuries she was awarded just £11,500 in damages, to be held in a trust fund until she was 18. She was also later granted around £120-a-week in disability benefits to help her parents cope with their daughter’s condition.

The DWP has now cut off the Employment Support Allowance Kayley had been receiving. And it is demanding £23,500 of the allowance – paid because her disabilities prevent her from working – is handed back. Officials claim the fact Kayley has savings of more than £16,000, which is made up of the compensation she received plus interest, means she is not eligible for the allowance.

The demand has infuriated her mum Sharon who says her only way of paying it back is to plunder her daughter’s compensation fund.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Post, outraged Sharon, 55, revealed she is refusing to pay back the money. “They are not having a penny,” she said. “Even if it means I have to go to prison.”

She said there’s no way she should have to raid the money awarded to Kayley because of the injuries Allitt inflicted on her. “That money is to pay for Kayley’s care because she was attacked by Allitt,” she added. “I’m fuming they are threatening to take it away. Kayley would be left with nothing and will even have to take out a loan to pay the full amount.”

……………………..

Sharon – who adopted Kayley with her sister Zara in 1997 – insists a judgment made it clear at the time the compensation would not affect her daughter’s disability benefits in the future. But crucial paperwork held by the authorities has now gone missing, she claims.

Read the whole of this Sunday Post article here: http://www.sundaypost.com/news-views/uk/woman-left-disabled-by-child-killer-beverley-allitt-ordered-to-repay-23-500-in-benefits-1.857188

Lord Freud Confirms Getting ESA Support Group Has Been Made Harder For Women

Same Difference

With many thanks to Benefits And Work.

In a written parliamentary answer, Lord Freud has confirmed last week’s revelation by Benefits and Work that it has now been deliberately made harder for women claimants to qualify for the support group of employment and support allowance (ESA).

In our newsletter last month, we warned readers that:

“ . . . a new scoring system has been created to decide if claimants with mental health issues can get into the support group because of a risk of harm to themselves or someone else. The system has been deliberately designed to make it more difficult for women to qualify than men.

“For example, a man with a diagnosis of depression and a history of deliberate self-harm who is unemployed – generally the case for ESA claimants – will be eligible for the support group, according to the guidance.

“But a woman in…

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Conservative benefits policy: Not merely cruelty, but also incompetence.

appealsWCA results

Mylegalforum has posted these 2 interesting infographics on Twitter. The current UK government’s campaign to throw people off the benefits they need and qualify for seems to be backfiring. Thousands of people are being made more ill and / or destitute by his punitive policies, and they aren’t even achieving their stated aim of reducing the benefits bill. Not merely cruelty, but also incompetence.