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Disabled Haworth woman's anger at 'unfair' benefits system
A disabled Haworth woman had to wait 12 months for an appeal to be heard after her benefits application was rejected.
And after winning her appeal, Jayne Pickard had to wait another nine weeks before the Department of Work and Pensions sent her arrears.
The money was eventually paid into her bank account – the day after the Keighley News approached the Department about her case.
Mrs Pickard, of Mytholmes Lane, said her experience highlighted the unfairness of the Government’s changes to Income Support. She said she was one of thousands of people to fall foul of new-style medical assessments.
Jayne, a charity campaigner, suffers from problems with her spine, neck and legs, including a degenerative disc disease and spondylitis. She said she was in permanent pain and had been unable to work since the condition forced her to leave her supermarket job.
She said: “Most days are a struggle to even get out of bed, let alone function relatively normally.”
Last year, Jayne was summoned for a medical assessment regarding a claim for Income Support and was shocked to fail by three points. The rejection was all the more surprising because her condition already entitled her to receive higher-rate Disability Living Allowance for both care and mobility.
Jayne said: “I lodged an appeal within 24 hours and my benefit was changed from Income Support to the assessment rate of Employment and Support Allowance, which was a drop of £60 per fortnight.
“I have struggled to make ends meet ever since. Bills are behind so I incur late fees, bank charges from failed direct debits abound.
“There’s nothing spare to enjoy life and even shopping is basics, no treats. I don’t smoke or drink, my only luxury is the internet and cable TV.”
Following a successful appeal hearing in August, Jayne expected to receive benefits at the proper rate along with the arrears, but despite several phone calls nothing arrived.
She said: “The sad thing is that I know I’m not the only one. There are thousands like me, some more disabled than me.”
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions confirmed a staff member from Jobcentre Plus had called Jayne to resolve the issue, and arrears were paid in full by electronic transfer.