Retired HGV driver Geoffrey Elwell, 68, could barely cook, shower or walk without help – yet was given zero points in a humiliating PIP assessment
A pensioner has blasted Theresa May after her partner finally won his disability benefits back – two days after he died.
Carol Acton, 68, was left “angry and lost for words” after receiving the shock letter while she grieved for her love of 12 years Geoffrey Elwell.
Retired HGV driver and electrician Geoffrey had crippling chest and spinal injuries after his truck flipped in a crash that left him temporarily dead.
Carol, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, said he couldn’t walk long distances, cook or shower without her help and had for years received Disability Living Allowance.
He appealed the decision in January – but three months later was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer.
Already diabetic and having suffered two heart attacks, 68-year-old Geoffrey moved to a hospice while he waited for a date for his appeal.
He died on June 21, two days before it was heard. Then on June 23 the appeal ruled his benefits should not just be awarded in full – but be backdated to January.
Geoffrey’s shocking case was raised at Prime Minister’s Questions this week by his local Labour MP Gareth Snell.
Yet despite sending her condolences to Carol, Theresa May defended the system, saying it means “we are able to focus payments on the most vulnerable”.
Carol said she watched PMQs on TV, adding: “It was very emotional – it brought it all back.
“I wasn’t very happy with the way Theresa May handled it. She offered condolences to me but that’s not going to help, is it? She didn’t seem very sincere when she said it.”
If Theresa May knocked on her door now “I would probably thump her”, Carol joked.
She added she still hasn’t received the backdated cash – and “nobody’s ever apologised to me”.
Hundreds of thousands of people have had their benefits axed or downgraded when moving from DLA to PIP since 2013.
Two-thirds of those who appeal to get PIP, which helps with daily living costs, win their cases – 14,077 in the most recent three months alone.
But victims of the system are forced to wait through an internal appeals system before they can appeal to an independent tribunal.
Carol blasted the assessor who said Geoffrey was not eligible for benefits last year, saying: “She was looking at her watch all the time. She was very abrupt.
“She was asking him questions not looking directly at him – she was basically downright rude.”
The letter from the independent tribunal came through while she was grieving for Geoffrey.
She said: “I was angry and lost for words. If Geoff had hung on a bit at least I could have said to him, ‘you’ve won’. He could’ve died knowing it was sorted. But I couldn’t tell him that.”
The appeal judge ruled Geoffrey should be paid £141.10 a week – the maximum possible rate of PIP.
DWP officials insisted they were processing the payments grieving Carol “urgently”.
A DWP spokeswoman said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Elwell’s family. ARE THEY HELL! They are just glad it’s another one less they have to pay for!
“In this instance new evidence was submitted alongside the appeal which changed the outcome of the case.” Was this “new evidence” media exposure?