DWP responds after demanding woman, 93, with dementia repays £7,000 | Personal Finance | Finance

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has made a grovelling apology after it demanded a dementia-stricken pensioner aged 93 to refund over £7,000. Its remorse came after the elderly lady failed to disclose a change in her circumstances five years back.

In a shocking twist, the authorities ordered the unnamed lady, who suffers from advanced stages of Parkinson’s Disease and dementia, to repay an astonishing amount she obtained from the severe disability premium of Pension Credit between 2019 and 2022.

The drama unfolded as her daughter, Rose Chitseko commenced claiming Carer’s Allowance in 2019 when the old woman became incapacitated to take care of herself, the Mirror reports.

Bearing in mind the stipulated terms, this denoted that Rose’s mother was then no longer fit to claim the disability premium. It was concluded by the DWP that Rose’s mum “failed” to divulge the transformation in circumstance and falsely affirmed the benefit.

However, following an appeal from Rosea past adult social care workerarguing that her gravely ill mother had been too ill to notify them due to her debilitating Parkinson’s, the DWP disregarded this and relentlessly pursued the cash.

The Guardian’s investigative spotlight on Carer’s Allowance overpayments has uncovered a case where the Government department has now written off the overpayments and issued an apology.

Rose expressed her frustration to the Guardian, saying: “They apologise, which is something, but they don’t explain why they took the money in the first place. It’s frustrating that they don’t explain. They give me a number to call for information but if they don’t want to say anything they’re not going to say anything.”

Previously, Rose’s mother was returning hundreds from her pension and savings every month, which amounted to a third of her life savings. Relieved yet concerned about the DWP‘s lack of discretion, Rose told the Guardian: “Here you had an elderly lady whose powers were declining … if that’s not a case for discretion, what is?”

A DWP spokesperson commented on the matter to the Guardian, stating: “Following a review of the case, we have cancelled the overpayment and apologise [to the claimant] for any distress. We will refund all repayments already made.”

The Guardian’s probe into Carer’s Allowance overpayments unearthed the case recently. It had reported last month that “ten of thousands” of individuals – mostly from relatively impoverished backgrounds with ill or disabled dependents to look after – have been compelled to reimburse their benefits upon violating the allowance’s employment laws.

Carer’s Allowance is valued at £81.90 on a weekly basis and granted if you provide care for 35 hours or more each week. While it does allow you to hold a job, it restricts your earnings to no more than £151 per week after tax, National Insurance, pension payments, and permissible expenses.

Eligibility for Carer’s Allowance is determined by taking an average if your income fluctuates every week or month. You become ineligible for the Carer’s Allowance as soon as your earnings exceed the limit, even if it’s just by £1.

Several carers have previously opened up about how puzzling the rules regarding income limits can be – especially when their work schedule changes or they get a pay rise. The newspaper stated that the majority of the cases related to overpayment owed to “genuine mistakes” made by the claimant.

The National Audit Office has reported fewer than 10% of Carer’s Allowance overpayment instances were due to fraudulent activities.

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