Home Disability More than 21,000 sick and disabled people die waiting for vital benefits

More than 21,000 sick and disabled people die waiting for vital benefits

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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted that over 21,000 ill and disabled people died waiting for their Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment to be completed, between April 2013 and 30 April 2018.

PIP is claimed by people with a range of health conditions and disabilities, many of which are chronic, degenerative or life limiting.

Sarah Newton MP, the Minister of State for Disabled People, published the figures on 11 January following a question raised in parliament by Labour MP Madeleine Moon in December.

DWP HQ, Caxton House, London. Photo: Paul Billanie for Welfare Weekly.

She asked: “How many people have died while waiting for their personal independence payment assessment to be completed; and what were the conditions those people died from?”

Responding to the question, Newton said: “All benefit claims can be made under the special rules for people who are terminally ill which will mean that they are fast tracked.

“These are currently being cleared within 6 working days for new claimants to PIP.

“The Department would encourage all claimants with a terminal illness to let the department know and to apply using the special rules.”

“The cause of death of PIP claimants is not collated centrally by the Department”, she added.

Over 3.6 million applications to PIP were made between April 2013 and 30th April 2018. Of these:

  • 4,760 claimants died between their case being referred to, and returned from, an assessment provider;
  • 73,800 claimants died within 6 months of their claim being registered; and
  • 17,070 claimants died after registering but prior to the DWP making a decision on their claim.

Overall, the total number of PIP claimants who died was 95,000. But Newton’s response does not indicate at what stage of their claim the 73,800 people, who died within six months of it being registered, were at.

Nor does it indicate what those people who did not have terminal or degenerative illnesses died of – including those with mental illness.

For example, 270 of those mortalities are listed as having had anxiety and/or depressive disorders as their primary disorder.

photo credit: Lisa Norwood via photopin cc

Of those who did have terminal illnesses, we need to ask why these people were so cruelly left waiting so long for their assessment, if, as Newton claims, they are ‘fast tracked’ through the claim and assessment process.

Newton also said: “This is unpublished data… It should be used with caution and it may be subject to future revision.”

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “It is shocking that so many disabled people have died waiting for their social security claims to be processed at a time when they need and should be able to get support.

“Sadly this appalling situation is set to get even worse with the waiting times for first payments of universal credit.”

The DWP has been contacted for comment.

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