DWP overturn fit-to-work decision 7 months after claimant suffers fatal heart attack

The DWP has overturned a fit-to-work decision seven months after the claimant suffered a fatal heart attack.

In a nod to the film I, Daniel Blake Jeff Hayward, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, had been deemed unfit to work by his GP.

But after losing his job of more than 25 years he was refused employment support allowance (ESA) after a health assessor awarded him no disability points.

He went through five stages of applications and appeals, The Guardian has reported, but it was only last month that his daughter Holly, who took up his case after his death, was told he was entitled to the highest rate of ESA – seven months after he passed away.

His family will be paid his backdated benefits but they remain angry about the stress Hayward was put through and that the decision was overturned on the basis of the same medical evidence he had previously submitted.

Holly Hayward told The Guardian: “For someone who was genuinely ill, worked all their life, never asked for a penny [previously], it made him feel worthless. He was stressed and depressed, it made him feel worse than he already did.

“He had two letters the GP had written to them and obviously that still wasn’t good enough – until I went [to the upper tribunal], when it was good enough.”

The shocking revelation comes hot on the heels of reports that a starving 64-year-old man who weighed just six stone was denied benefits and told to “go and look for work” by the DWP.

Katy Marshall, the Ribble Valley Citizens Advice manager, said: “This is far from being an isolated case as sadly we see many very incapacitated people who struggle to appeal against the decision that they are fit for work. We often hear: ‘But my doctor says I can’t work. How can they say that I can?’ They can and they do – it is a cruel and unfair system for a great many people.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Hayward’s family at this sad time. Appeal tribunals and decisions are run by the independent Courts and Tribunals Service, but we are sorry for the time this took. Mr Hayward continued to receive personal independence payments during the appeal and we have paid back full ESA arrears to his family.”

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