Belfast Telegraph

Benefits rethink urged as mum battling cancer overturns ‘cruel’ criteria decision

By Lauren Harte

A west Belfast woman battling cancer has had her Personal Independence Payment (PIP) application successfully overturned.

Roisin McWilliams (28) had been denied the financial support despite undergoing treatment for stage four Hodgkin's lymphoma.

After going through the assessment process, she didn't meet the criteria for PIP, which would have provided weekly financial comfort to herself and her three-year-old daughter.

Following a public outcry the Department for Communities has now done a U-turn and confirmed that Roisin's PIP payments will be backdated to April.

Her father Tom, who had been leading the fight on behalf of his daughter, said: "We got a phone call on Tuesday night from our legal representative to tell us that Roisin's PIP application has now been approved and that she will be paid back all money that's owed to her.

"We received the confirmation letter on Wednesday."

Tom says his family will be forever indebted to all who supported them to help bring the matter to a successful end, but believes reform of the PIP process is now required.

"Something needs to be done urgently to change the criteria. No one should ever have to worry about money and it's a total disgrace that we put people through such a degrading and humiliating process," he added.

"It's unforgivable what Roisin has been put through these last few months. She did not need this type of trauma on top of her illness. We are just very glad for Roisin that it has been sorted out so we can start to focus on more important things in our lives."

When contacted, the department said it could not comment on individual cases, but added: "In relation to PIP decisions, additional information can become available after the original decision is made.

"The department will review any additional material which is supplied and is not prescriptive in what this additional information may be. Some of the most common types of information supplied at this review stage are additional medical records and reports from health professionals which were not available during the original assessment.

"The additional information supplied at this stage will be reviewed and depending on its nature may mean the original decision is changed. If the decision is changed, the PIP award will be backdated to the date of application."

In a further boost, Roisin has also had funding approved for a new treatment that will improve her chance of survival.

Belfast Telegraph

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