Christine McCluskey was suffering from a number of long-term illnesses when the DWP decided to revoke her benefits; it was also decided that she no longer had a right to a mobility car. Following the grandmother’s death, her family has stated that how her case was handled was “disgusting”.
Christine McCluskey, 61, was suffering from a number of long-term health issues, including Crohn’s disease, osteoporosis, arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease when it was decided by the DWP that her benefits should be stopped.
The grandmother weighed a shocking three stone at the time of death, after a lengthy battle with cancer.
At the time of the Department of Work and Pensions stopping her benefits, she was being fed via a tube and was severely malnourished. Hospital staff also said that she was suffering from a concerning cough.
Although aware of her chronic health issues, the DWP revoked Christine’s £117.85 a week that she received in Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and her right to having a mobility car.
Just one month later, it was sadly confirmed that Christine was suffering from cancer. Despite this, her daughter Michelle, 42, insists that the DWP were refusing to reinstate her benefits.
She told inews: “I can’t get my head around how someone could assess my mother as anything but very sick. You only had to look at her to see that.”
According to Michelle, the DWP concluded that Christine was deemed fit enough not to receive her benefits as she managed to answer the door for them.
Michelle said: “[She] hobbled from the sofa to the door to let them in.”
In 1986, Christine, from Dundee, was assessed as being at least 80 per cent disabled at a medical appeal tribunal.
Following a stroke in 2005, her health rapidly declined further.
For 16 hours a day, Christine was required to be hooked up to a tube so that she could be fed, due to having Crohn’s disease.
Michelle added: “Then in the beginning of 2018, her health deteriorated badly. Her weight was never that great – around the six stone mark. At the time of the assessment in May 2018, she weighed 5st 5lbs.”
Christine was assessed for her benefits by the Independent Assessment Services (IAS), which was previously known as Atos.
The assessors said that Christine was able to get into the bath by herself, despite the forms stating that her ability to get in the bath wasn’t assessed as she appeared too frail.
The assessors then looked at her scars from surgery and declared that they “didn’t look that bad” – although they only examined one leg.
In the aftermath of the assessment, it was determined that Christine would no longer need her PIP payments and her right to a mobility car was withdrawn. Therefore, she would only receive her Employment and Support Allowance.
After it was confirmed that she was suffering from terminal lung cancer the following month, Michelle asked them to revoke the decision. The DWP continued to uphold the decision of withdrawing her payments, despite being aware she was so frail that she couldn’t have surgery or chemotherapy to treat her cancer.
Michelle has decided to speak out about her mum’s devastating final months as she wants others to be aware of such struggles. She is now supporting the ‘Scrap 6 Months‘ campaign which was launched by charities Marie Curie and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
According to the campaign, thousands of people across the UK are dying without financial support. It has been currently stipulated that terminally ill people are only able to get fast track access once they have been informed they have six months or less to live.
It has been argued by campaigners that illnesses can be incredibly unpredictable which means health care professionals cannot always predict death accurately.
Michelle believes that the decision made by DWP and the resulting financial struggles accelerated her mother’s death.
Christine’s daughter has now taken the case to tribunal and a judge has reversed the decision which was made.
Although Michelle had the payments backdated, she believes the decision is “too little too late” and the money would have been used better making her mum’s final days more comfortable.
A DWP spokesperson said: “Our condolences are with Miss McCluskey’s family.”