Man who had sickness benefits axed wins appeal – months after he died

Reposted from the Mirror

Terrible story: Graham with wife Yvonne

A widow was horrified when a letter arrived for her late husband saying he had won his appeal against his sickness benefits being axed.

Graham Shawcross, 63, had potentially fatal Addison’s disease, but was ruled fit to work last November and had his £400-a-month incapacity benefit halted. (you can read more about Addisons disease here

He died of a heart attack in February this year.

Yvonne, his wife of 23 years, claims the stress of losing his benefits, and of launching an appeal against the decision, caused his death.

She told Department of Work and Pensions bosses Graham had died, but they still invited him to attend an appeal hearing – and wrote again a few days later to say he was eligible for Employment and Support Allowance for at least the next 24 months.

Yvonne of Radcliffe, Manchester, said: “Graham would surely be alive today if it was not for the stress.

“The month before he died, you could tell he was going downhill. He was completely not himself, his stress levels were going through the roof and he was upping his steroids to higher levels every day.

“Graham was talking about his appeal constantly and writing the details out dozens of times a day.

“He was a proud man and what upset him most was that he thought they were calling him a liar.

“It was just heartbreaking.”

In November, Graham received a letter from the DWP informing him he was no longer entitled to incapacity benefit after an assessment found he was fit for work.

But Graham, who did not receive a single point when his capability to work was assessed, suffered from Addison’s disease – a rare adrenal gland disorder which affects hormone production.

The condition, treated with steroid medication, causes exhaustion, muscle weakness, dizziness, fainting and cramps and can lead to adrenal crisis, which can be fatal.

Mr Shawcross had suffered from Addison’s disease since the age of 21 but had worked for forty years before ill-health got the better of him.

After appealing the decision at the end of January, he was summoned to a hearing in Bury in June 19 – despite Yvonne informing the DWP of his death.

On June 24, a second letter arrived stating his appeal had been granted and he was eligible for Employment and Support Allowance for at least the next 24 months.

Mr Shawcross, father to 30-year-old Gary and Rebecca, aged 21, volunteered as the treasurer of the Bolton Road estate tenants and residents association.

His wife, who runs a school kitchen, said when he attended his medical assessment with Atos Healthcare he brought with him a large folder about his condition, which was not consulted.

She added: “If Graham could have worked he would have loved to work – he did anything for anybody.

“As it turns out, he did not even need to go through all the stress, because he won his appeal. But it was all for nothing.”

Bury South MP Ivan Lewis said: “Graham Shawcross was a remarkable man, who for nearly 40 years, worked hard despite having a chronic illness.

“His treatment at the hands of this callous Tory-led government was scandalous.

“It exposes the fact that many of the changes they are making hit vulnerable people who deserve better in a civilised society.”

A DWP spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with the family of Graham Shawcross.

“A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken by DWP following a thorough independent assessment, and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist.”
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22 Responses to Man who had sickness benefits axed wins appeal – months after he died

  1. Glynnismillward, I don’t know if you have ever read an article called “Autogenocide”. I think you might find it relevant to your articles on the dismal way Ill/disabled/unemployed are being treated. I have shown how to access it on my blog – on targeted-individuals.
    Regards, Clair


  2. These stories, such as about Mr Shawcross, are heart rending. My husband of 20 years passed away last year when his cancer returned. He was fortunate in that he was both retired and received all disability benefits he was entitled to before the recent changes. The last thing desperately ill people need is worrying about how they will pay the rent, keep warm, – because they need a temp of 70 degrees, and get to hospital appointments or afford a special diet. Etc. what those in charge are doing is reprehensible. It takes a strong stomach and a level head to do the stories of the gratuitous victims, justice. Our mainstream media are shameful. I am glad you and others are giving their stories the attention they deserve. Who else would speak for them?


  3. So sorry to hear of your recent bereavement; I hope you have lots of lovely memories of him that you can revisit X
    I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say … as the saying goes those in power p*ss on you and the BBC say it’s raining. I truly believe that facebook, twitter, 38 degrees and the brilliant DPAC protests against the abolition of the ILF are the tools to use against this government and I think that realisation is slowly dawning on people about the appalling and despicable treatment meted out to the sick, disabled and vulnerable by this government.


    • Thank you – he did indeed leave me with many happy memories. I don’t think the govt/our politicians have ever been held in such contempt by the populace. But I think also we have never felt so helpless – living under a dictatorship.


  4. Mike Sivier says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    This is why court rulings like today’s workfare case against Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP are so important – this is a criminal regime claiming to act in your name while arranging the deaths of tens of thousands of people just like you.


  5. beastrabban says:

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Yet another case of a severely ill individual dying after Atos found them fit for work, and the massive delays in the appeals process, which means that for all too many people like Mr Shawcross, when they finally win it is far, far too late.


    • Does anyone know if the monies the deceased should have received are paid to the Estate? Some people will have suffered financial losses in the interim.


      • As far as I know prayerwarriorpsychicnot, monies due and payable to the deceased during their lifetime are normally paid to the estate. However, I know the rules are slightly different with benefits. I will have a research about this and see if I can get you the definitive answer X


      • It seems crass raising the subject of money in the circumstances, but withholding or delaying payments to seriously ill or dying people – that they are entitled to – at the time they need it adding to their problems and stress – and if it should turn out the rules mean if the person dies they save on the payment – well, I think people who are prepared to do that should at least publicly own their acts.


  6. Reblogged this on amnesiaclinic and commented:
    Graham would surely be alive today if it was not for the stress. Yvonne his wife.


  7. jaypot2012 says:

    My heart goes out to Yvonne on the loss of her wonderful husband. Two more victims of this “coalition” government and it’s deep disregard of all who are vulnerable.
    Although I try not to wish away the time, I cannot wait until May 2015 to vote these murderers out, this government that practices deceit and shows no mercy, whilst seeing the struggling that many millions are going through. In the meantime, how many more are going to die due to these cuts that were never needed for an austerity program that only applies to the poorest of the country?


    • Today, I was at my local supermarket collecting food donations for the Trussell Trust and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the knowledge people had about the way sick, disabled and vulnerable people are being treated by this government. Not one of the people who donated (and there were lots of them from all social classes and creeds) had a good word to say about the Tories; so with any luck Jaypot these murdering bast*rds will be gone in May 2015


  8. jaypot2012 says:

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:


  9. Methusalada says:

    Stress is the major cause of most heart disease such as strokes and enlargement of the heart .It is something I know a little about as I have been down both of these scenarios myself plus a few others. Approximately most people who suffer a stroke can recover today , but over 30% die. Most of those whom survive do so a variable levels of their previous physical & mental abilities . Some who have more than one stroke & continue to live longer providing they change their life style ,change their eating habits and stressful environment. Recovery from stroke is also dependant on which area a person lives such as air pollution , warmth of climate and the extant of friend & family support . Recovery can be very difficult & is varied in it’s timing, some of us can many take months or years or can never. When I say recovery I don’t mean your up & away again as you were before your first stroke. As the recovery is never complete in that a persons physical & mental processes are the not same as he or she was before they had their initial stroke . As many of the brain cells have died and are not able to function normally. Depression is another self realisation hammer that often strikes home & can last for years or ever. Stroke attacks can affect either side of the brain. This can be on the left side of the brain or on the right side of the brain (The Cerebellum ) Hence the phrase “stroke is a warning & a gift from God ” which I personally do not believe , but if it gives comfort & enables recovery I think OK. I’m lucky!
    In regard to Graham Shawcross & others like him I feel anger towards this Government & it’s Machiavellian henchman as I believe their is a case to answer here by this Parliament. That is my opinion but I am not a solicitor. I also worry about Mrs Shawcross & thousand like her.
    I have already informed my wife that she has to inform all the world especially the benefits office & the Bank of my demise as I don’t want her disposing of my body on borrowed benefits money that is illegal & would have to pay back. I want my ashes to be spread into the letterbox of No 10 & 11 Downing Street that will help some sort of recovery. However that is not the case with Mr & Mrs Shawcross as no such ruling exists for them except compassion to be shown after the event . Though I doubt very much if it shall.
    Roll on 2015 ! We can’t take it.

    p.s. Never be afraid to write about death it can an enlightening subject in my opinion. It comes to all in time, even Governments .


    • Well said! I like the bit about scattering your ashes through the letterbox of 10 & 11 Downing Street. Maybe we should mount a protest and shred 10,600 peices of A4 paper with the name of the person that has died within 6 weeks of being ruled fit to work by ATOS/DWP and scatter them (as symbolic ashes) outside numbers 10 & 11 whilst giving a eulogy. I honestly think that in years to come there will be a Hillsborough type enquiry into this government and their killing machines (Atos/DWP) which show the true extent of their utter contempt for the sick, disabled and vulnerable. This of course will be of no help to the remaining relatives of those that have died, which is why we all have a responsibility to make the general public aware of what is really going on so that they are fully informed before the next election.


  10. George says:

    The Westminster MPs and Cameron are murderers,if this was wartime they would be classed as mass murderers and be done in a court for it,this is not the first story i have read about someone dying because of the scumbags. Atos doctors should also lose there licence for saying for ie Graham Shawcross who had fatal Addison’s disease and the doc says he is fit to work. Sack them all and take there licence of them,there suppose to keep people alive if possible but there just as bad as the MPs and Cameron.Rant finished.


  11. Pingback: High Court throws out Duncan Smith’s “flawed and tawdry” retrospective workfare law | Street Democracy - where it should reach

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