By Jodie Nesling
A pensioner who was ordered to attend a Department for Work and Pensions tribunal while battling cancer has had the decision reversed after The Isle of Thanet News intervened.
The 68-year-old from Ramsgate, who we have been asked not to name, also has other serious medical conditions assessors were aware of including lacking sight in one eye and all her teeth missing due to taking incorrectly prescribed medication, meaning she cannot eat properly.
Jo Wallace, a DJ from Ramsgate, is the pensioner’s power to act and says the long process has been inhumane and exhausting.
She said: “She has worked all her life, including at restaurants in Paris and in Broadstairs, paying her taxes and is treated this way. It’s disgusting. She was diagnosed with esophageal cancer on Christmas Eve. She also has a fractured spine and has not been able to eat solid food for two years.”
Jo has been fighting the DWP since October 2018 and says documents were frequently lost. She described her horror at reading the assessment report after requesting it and finding scores of inaccuracies.
The assessment for a PIP payment (Personal Independent Payment) was carried out at Canterbury by private contractor ATOS. Applicants are asked basic questions and they are then placed on a point scale to determine eligibility.
Jo said: “In the DWP report, they said she walked into the assessment with a normal gait. I pushed her in a wheelchair and she was wearing a TENS machine. The only way I can defend that statement is by requesting CCTV footage of me pushing her into the ATOS assessment in a wheelchair. They said she could stand and prepare food – all her food is prepared for her. They said her eyesight was functional.
“I have gone to Mandatory Consideration twice and advised them that she is too weak to go through with a tribunal. I got a letter back from the DWP stating that the whole matter has to be referred to the tribunal.
“I was crying on the phone through utter frustration. You could drive a bus through the inaccuracies. Reports have been sent directly to the claimant when the DWP are meant to send them directly to me. Twice, my address has been overridden manually and the senior complaints manager who rectified it twice was at a loss to know why this had been done.”
“Numerous phone calls to the PIP helpline have entailed a 40 minute wait and led to more frustrations.”
But, after The Isle of Thanet News contacted the department Jo received a phone call to say they had reversed the decision.
A spokesman from the DWP said: “We want people to get all the support they are entitled to. Ms XXX has been awarded the highest rate of PIP after we were provided with new evidence about a change in her condition.”