DWP tells terminally-ill man with oxygen mask to go to job appointments

-Credit: (Image: Martin Sawyer)
-Credit: (Image: Martin Sawyer)

A terminally-ill man who relies on an oxygen mask says he feels "set up to fail" after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) asked him to attend job appointments. Former teacher Martin Sawyer, 53, can only walk to the end of his bed before becoming breathless after receiving a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis six months ago.

The condition has no cure and refers to a cluster of lung diseases, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Martin, who relies on carers to help him complete day-to-day tasks, was told he must attend Jobcentre appointments after putting in a claim for Universal Credit.

He says he had let the DWP know about his terminal condition, The Mirror reports.

Martin, who also claims the maximum level of the disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for his condition, told The Mirror: “To be told they expect you to attend interviews, it just completely deflates you. You can't physically manage it. It's almost like they’re setting you to to fail. They’ve had letters from my doctor to say I’m terminal but their system says they won’t accept that. They want you to agree to an action plan [Universal Credit agreement] but it’s impossible. I’m bed-bound, on oxygen - there's no way to do it.”

If you're receiving end of life care and you're under state pension age, providing you're eligible, some of the benefits you could be entitled to include Universal Credit, PIP and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). You can ask a medical professional to fill in a form for you, known as the SR1 form, so you can get the benefit you applied for under "special rules" which speed up your claim.

Normally when you claim Universal Credit, you have to sign a "claimant commitment" which details everything you must do in order to claim your benefits, such as looking for work or increasing your earnings, if you're already in work. Mr Sawyer told The Mirror he made the DWP aware of his condition, but still continued to receive in-person and telephone appointments.

After being contacted by The Mirror, the DWP apologised for the distress caused to Mr Sawyer and said his health assessment was not correctly updated. The DWP said it is removing all requirements for him to attend Jobcentre appointments, and said his "claimant commitment" would be adjusted accordingly. The two appointments he had scheduled for this week have now been cancelled.

Martin, who will find out how much Universal Credit he is entitled to later this month, told The Mirror: "It felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Now, there is some hope. The one thing that still worries me, is that they could still turn around and get heavy with other people. I'd encourage people not to give up."

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