A disabled woman has claimed that she was left with 47p in her bank account after cruel officials from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) wrongly stopped her disability benefit payments.
Melanie Forrest, 56, says she has been unable to food and bills after cruel benefit bosses stopped her life-saving Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
PIP is replacing Disability Living Allowance for all eligible working-age adults.
The latest official statistics reveal that around 3 in 4 sick and disabled people successfully challenge PIP decisions at tribunal, fueling concerns that the assessment process continues to fail those with the greatest needs.
Melanie was unable to attend a PIP assessment because she was in hospital undergoing a hip replacement.
Eligibility for PIP expires if a claimant spends 28 days or more in hospital, but Melanie received treatment and was allowed allowed within four days.
However, the DWP wrongly believed that she had spent far longer in a hospital bed, resulting in the termination of her PIP payments.
She told The Courier: “They have admitted a mistake with the dates and that they owe me about £600 or £700, which is probably £800 now.”
The Department has admitted its mistake that left Melanie penniless and promised to reintate her PIP payments and pay the monies she had been denied.
“It’s just appalling”, said Ms Forrest.
“Apparently they thought I was in [hospital] for 28 days.”
“The payment just suddenly stopped”, she said. “They don’t realise that people rely on that money.”
She continued: “I used to work for the NHS before I got osteoarthritis. I would love to go back to work in the hospital but I physically can’t do it.
“The money should have been through on Monday and if I hadn’t rung the bank I wouldn’t have known. Now, I’m going to have to pay bank charges.”
Her case demonstrates a lack of joined-up thinking between Government departments – most notably the NHS and DWP.
“You can’t speak to the same person, they won’t transfer you to a supervisor or a manager and they’re not noting things down,” she said.
A DWP spokesperson said: “Ms Forrest has continued to receive her ESA benefit, which is designed to offer a regular income, without interruption.
“Unfortunately there has been an error with her PIP claim covering additional costs, and we apologise to her for that and will be making a full payment of all arrears due to her.”