Dementia campaigner who was denied PIP by DWP has decision overturned at tribunal

Joy Watson was forced to give up her job as a carer after she was diagnosed four years ago and is unable to manage her own medicine or cook because she forgets to turn off the gas

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An award-winning dementia campaigner whose fight for others saw her benefits cut has had the decision overturned at tribunal. Joy Watson was forced to give up her job as a carer after she was diagnosed four years ago and is unable to manage her own medicine or cook because she forgets to turn off the gas.

The 58-year-old and her retired husband Tony struggled to pay their bills after the Department for Work and Pensions decided she was able to look after herself. Joy, who was receiving £400 less each month, was left stunned when her benefits were stopped, telling the Manchester Evening News that dementia is a progressive disease and her condition will only get worse.

But the DWP’s decision was this week reversed at a tribunal after nine months of worry for Joy. “I cried when the judge told me the decision to take away my benefit had been overturned,” Joy said. “I was so relieved, just knowing I could pay back my son who has been paying our mortgage, and friends who have got us through financially.

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“But losing nine precious months has been devastating. It’s near on impossible to make memories when you are limited physically, financially and living in fear of the future. “I can never make up those nine months, but I can make the next nine months count, and that’s my intention – to carry on raising awareness about this nasty disease and be there for people affected by it.”

Joy was assessed by a health worker from the DWP at her home in Eccles, Greater Manchester, in April following the recent government changes to move claimants on Disability Support Allowance to Personal Independence Payments. (PIP). After this assessment, Joy says her support payments were stopped. She appealed, but was rejected and returned an even lower score than the original decision.

Joy’s PIP payments were stopped, and the Carer’s Allowance her retired husband Tony received for supporting Joy was also rescinded despite him caring for her round-the-clock, the MEN reported. It came as a bitter blow to the couple who after the initial shock of her diagnosis at just 54 made a decision to be as positive as possible.

Joy used her own difficult experiences whilst out shopping to create a booklet for staff in shops and banks and gave one to each business in Eccles, signing up hundreds to a dementia friendly scheme. Although she tries to live as independently as possible Tony says Joy is unable to look after herself. When she has tried to cook she has forgotten to turn the gas on, or not put water in the pan with vegetables and most worryingly she also forgets to turn the gas off.

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A couple of years ago she went away with a carer for a few days and took her evening pills in the morning leaving her like a zombie all day. Tony said: “The assessment lasted about an hour and Joy did not move from the sofa once.

“She struggled to remember her words, her hands shook and although we explained she can’t make meals because she forgets to turn off the gas and she can’t manage her medicine – she mixes up her evening and morning tablets – their report said she is able to look after herself.”

Last year Joy was made an Honorary Doctor of the University of Salford, and was recognised with then-Prime Minister David Cameron’s Points of Light Award. At the time, Mr Cameron said: “Since being diagnosed with Dementia, Joy has worked tirelessly to help people understand how we can all support people in our communities with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“She is an incredible ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society, reaching a huge number of people and businesses with information and advice that will help them join the dementia Friends movement. I am delighted to recognise Joy’s service by making her the UK’s 457th Point of Light.”

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