The family of a man who spent the last 18 months of his life against the decision to work was winning his case seven months after his death.
Jeff Hayward of Clitheroe, Lancashire, was 52 years old when he died of a heart attack in June of last year, two weeks before he was scheduled to go to a Disability Assistance Court.
The father of two and grandfather had cellulitis – a painful bacterial skin infection – on his legs and his family doctor considered him incapacitated. However, in November 2016, after losing his job for more than 25 years, he was denied unemployment benefits (ESA) in November 2016 after a health assessor awarded him no disability points.
According to Ribble Valley Citizens Advice, who supported him, he went through five application and appeal stages. Only last month, his daughter Holly, who took up the case after his death, was told that he was entitled to the highest ESA rate.
Although his family has received his surviving benefits, he remains angry at the stress Hayward has been subjected to and that the decision has been lifted on the basis of the same medical evidence he had provided earlier.
Holly Hayward said, "For someone who was really ill, worked all his life and never asked for a penny [previously]he felt worthless. He was stressed and depressed, it felt worse than before.
"He had two letters the doctor had written to them, and obviously that was not good enough – until I left [to the upper tribunal]if it was good enough. "
The Council of Citizens of Ribble Valley said Hayward was worried about the Disability Assistance Court, which will take place on 4 July last year. His daughter is clear that the stress has not killed him, but equally adamant that
She said that her father, who had worked as a warehouse worker, had never used anything before, but when he lost his job, he had painful ulcers and large patches of skin through which one could see his veins. The Supreme Tribunal overturned the original decision and found that Hayward could not walk more than 50 yards.
His daughter said, "If you had a problem, everyone went to my father. He would help everyone, everyone loved my father, he was incredible. It was hard [fighting his case] but I just wanted to get it for my dad because of all the stress they had been through. "
Capability assessments, which are used to assess eligibility for the ESA, have been reported by complaints that they are inaccurate, bureaucratic and have a negative impact on the applicants. Statistics released in 2015 showed that nearly 90 people died each month after being declared fit to work.
Katy Marshall, manager of Ribble Valley Citizens' Advice, said: "This is by no means an isolated incident, because unfortunately we see many very inept people who have difficulty protesting against the decision that they are fit to work. We often hear, "But my doctor says I can not work. How can you say that I can? "You can and do that – it's a cruel and unfair system for many people."
A spokesman for the Department of Labor and Pensions said: "Our thoughts are with this family in this sad time. The correct procedure, however, was pursued with the assertion of Mr. Hayward.
"The decisions are taken after taking into account all the information provided by the applicant, including the evidence from their family doctor or specialist.
"Often, when decisions have been overturned, more evidence has been provided to support their claim."