A six-stone man who was deemed “fit to find work” by the DWP has died.
Emaciated Stephen Smith passed away on Monday after struggling with a string of series of serious health problems.
He was denied vital benefits following a fitness for work assessment by the Department of Work and Pensions, the Liverpool Echo reports .
The 64-year-old was pictured just weeks before his death after he was admitted to hospital with pneumonia.
However, despite his glaringly obvious poor health and worrying weight loss, Mr Smith was forced to get a pass out from hospital to go and fight the DWP decision.
Officials had insisted he was fit and capable of finding work.
Mr Smith won the appeal after a tribunal judge saw he could barely walk down the street let alone hold down a job.
After finally agreeing to re-instate his ESA, the DWP said he would also receive back-payments for the money he was wrongly denied.
Today friends of the Liverpool man confirmed the sad news of his death with one describing him as “a good soul of the earth”.
One friend said: “He never really recovered from the pneumonia. He was a good soul of the earth. He would do anything for anyone.”
Mr Smith suffered a number of serious conditions, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, excruciating Osteoarthritis, an enlarged prostate and he used a colostomy bag to go to the toilet.
Despite all of this, he failed a DWP work capability assessment in 2017 – which meant his ESA payments were stopped and he was told to sign on for a £67 a week Jobseeker’s Allowance, visit the job centre once a week and prove he was looking for work.
Throughout this period, Mr Smith was living alone and didn’t know where to turn as his health deteriorated.
He said: “I could only make it to the kitchen to make food once a day.
“I had no muscles in the back of my leg which meant I couldn’t stand up at all – and had to lean or sit down all the time – but they were telling me I was fit for work.”
Mr Smith enlisted the help of the CASA community centre in Hope Street which offers support to people like Stephen.
And Tony Nelson – who runs the centre introduced Mr Smith to Terry Craven, a former city council welfare officer who works at the CASA advising people on benefit claims.
After Mr Smith was denied ESA, Terry took up his case and battled with the DWP to get him the benefits he knew he deserved.
Following the successful appeal of his case a DWP spokesman said: “We are sorry for the experience Mr Smith has had and we are committed to ensuring that people with health conditions get the support they’re entitled to.
“Following the independent tribunal’s ruling, he is now receiving full ESA support. While Mr Smith continued to receive benefits and support during his appeal, we can confirm he will shortly receive all back-payments for ESA due.”