A terminally-ill grandmother has had her benefits slashed to £6 a week following her cancer diagnsis.
Denise Bates, 50, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the second time at the start of this year – with doctors delivering the heartbreaking news that the disease was at stage four and there was nothing to be done.
The mum-of-five and gran-of-seven had been receiving benefits – but after undergoing a mandatory reconsideration for Personal Independent Payment (PIP) she was told she didn’t qualify for it.
Denise, from Hazlewood, Newcastle, has been receiving palliative chemotherapy, has a palliative nurse and is now in a wheelchair, reports Chronicle Live.
Her daughter Terri Bates, 28, said: “They said she was no longer entitled to the benefit and the decision could be appealed, or she was to apply for Universal Credit .
“We have been in touch with them but nothing gets done.
“I don’t know what they expect a terminally-ill woman in a wheelchair to do.
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“She can’t go out to work when she can’t even lift her head off the pillow.
“A palliative care nurse has provided a note to say she is terminally ill. I’m not sure what more they can want?”
She had been receiving £310 a month on PIP which is designed to help people have extra support with everyday life, but the money was stopped 10 weeks ago.
Denise, who has told doctors she doesn’t want to know how long she has to live, still receives her Carer’s Allowance and Income Support of £344 a month as she was looking after her son who has learning disabilities.
When bills are deducted, she is left with only £24 a month to live off, Terri said.
On the day of the assessment, the assessor came to Denise’s home, where she was very unwell and in her pyjamas and wheelchair.
Claimant’s need at least eight points in each section to receive the standard payment or more than 12 to be awarded the enhanced amount.
Terri criticised the assessment, which is carried out by a private contractor, and said the questions were not tailored to the individual’s needs.
“The questions were just like ‘Can you make a cup of tea?’ or ‘How far can you walk?’, stuff like that. There was nothing to do with her cancer or severe depression,” Terri said.
“A benefits advisor from the Maggies’ Centre helped her appeal the decision but we haven’t heard anything.
“We received a text message on Thursday saying the claim would be looked at within 10 weeks.”
In January, Denise was told her cancer had spread to her colon, spleen and liver.
Just weeks before, the grandmother fell into a deep depression and attempted suicide when she was waiting for the results of scans to see if the disease had returned.
Friends have now set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Denise so she can spend time with her family.
Terri said the benefits ordeal had meant her mum had lost out on precious time with her loved ones.
“This should be time she is spending with us and we should be enjoying what time we have left with her, but we are worrying about money instead,” she said.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We are urgently looking again at Ms Bates’ PIP claim. Our priority is that people with health conditions get the support they are entitled to, and that people nearing the end of their life get benefits quickly and easily.
“That’s why last week the Secretary of State announced we are undertaking an evaluation of how the benefits system supports people with the most severe, progressive or life-limiting conditions.”