Fife woman denied benefits despite ME diagnosis has decision reversed

A St Andrews woman has had an unfair benefits decision reversed following a lengthy struggle with the Department of Work and Pensions and an intervention by her local MP.

Hannah Foster was diagnosed for ME in 2019 and left her job as she was no longer able to complete it with her disability – despite this, she was declined the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Hannah contacted Wendy Chamberlain, MP for the North East Fife, who raised the case with Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions.

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Following a long struggle with the DWP, the decision has now been reversed, but Hannah said it raises more questions than answers.

She said: “The individual who reviewed my case said that it was clear that much of the evidence I had submitted had not been taken into account. What on earth was the original decision maker doing, then? What training has this person had?

“More to the point, how many assessors are making the wrong decision and making the lives of the disabled in this country substantially worse as a result?

“If it has happened to me, it is happening to thousands of other deserving applicants all over the UK, and it is unacceptable.

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“The inhumane lack of compassion it takes to support such a process is staggering, and I cannot help but think that it is only able to continue because the disabled are far less equipped to stand up for ourselves than most other groups of citizens due to physical/mental limitations, poor infrastructure, a lesser or inability to make money.

“We are also far more reliant on benefits than other groups, and so fear of speaking out is widespread among the disabled in this country.”

Ms Chamberlain added: “I am so pleased that we have managed to get this obvious unjust and inappropriate decision by the Department of Work and Pensions reversed, but Hannah is right to raise questions about how they arrived at their conclusion in the first place.

“Both Hannah and her employer arrived at the same conclusion that she was no longer able to work – it is staggering that the Department of Work and Pensions can come to a different conclusion and admitted to not looking at all the evidence. I am pleased that on this occasion we have a satisfactory result and will continue working with those who need help to get the results they need too, but we must acknowledge that there is something deeply wrong at the foundations of a system that allows this to happen even once.”