An article published by the Independent has revealed that over 17,000 people living with sickness or disability have died while waiting on decisions regarding their benefits claims.
Figures seen by the newspaper show that 17,070 people have died while waiting on decisions regarding their PIP payments since 2013. In more than half of the cases noted, the claimant’s primary disability was not recorded.
While nine disabled people die every day waiting on the results of their decisions, ministers are being accused of “failing people at the most vulnerable point in their lives.”
Part of this is attributed to the Government’s policy regarding people with terminal illness, with one in four of the deaths attributed to a claimant living with cancer. In order to currently be eligible for special rules for terminal illness, a claimant must have the reasonable expectation that they will pass away within six months, which many argues excludes many terminally ill claimants.
The UK Government is being urged to copy the Scottish Parliament’s approach, which scrapped the six-month rule in favour of a clinician’s assessment of the claimant.
Reported in September, waiting times for new disability benefit claims had increased massively in the space of three weeks, forcing people to wait up to 14 weeks to receive their benefits, the highest wait on record.
Speaking to the Independent, policy and development manager at Disability Rights UK Philip Connolly said: “Disabled people shouldn’t have to wait for so long for assessments for PIP. How vulnerable do you have to be before the government will change how things are done and ensure people get their assessments in a timely manner?
“Tax payers have a right to expect a decent service funded by their money. And disabled people have a right to an accurate and timely assessment so they get the benefits they qualify for promptly.”
Update 18/1/19: Original figures obtained by the Canary.Get your copy of UNITE Magazine