Leeds mum distraught after opening letter from DWP to say her baby had died

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A Leeds mum was left feeling “physically sick” after receiving a mistaken letter from the Department of Work and Pensions to say that her baby had died.

Donna Johnson had applied for the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for her 15-month-old daughter Rosabella, who suffers from hip dysplasia, scoliosis and torticollis.

She recently had a closed reduction procedure to put her left hip back in place, but will face major surgery into her adult years - and is not allowed to bounce or jump.

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Despite needing round-the-clock care, Donna’s DLA application was declined on the basis that Rosabella ‘would be better by December’.

Donna Johnson, of Swarcliffe, with her 15-month-old daughter Rosabella (Photo: Tony Johnson)Donna Johnson, of Swarcliffe, with her 15-month-old daughter Rosabella (Photo: Tony Johnson)
Donna Johnson, of Swarcliffe, with her 15-month-old daughter Rosabella (Photo: Tony Johnson)

Donna, of Swarcliffe, was outraged and applied for a reconsideration.

A week later, she got a letter through the door which she presumed was the outcome of the appeal.

Instead, it was a letter of condolence from the DWP which read: “I am sorry to hear that Miss Rosabella Johnson has died.”

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The letter, seen by the Yorkshire Evening Post, went on to add that Donna could no longer receive the disability living allowance.

“I felt physically sick,” Donna, 31, told the YEP.

“I rang them up and all they could say was that they were sorry. But that’s not the point.

“Have they been looking at two claims at the same time and got her mixed up with a different child?

“It’s not like she has a common name - it’s very unique.”

Donna received an apology from the DWP, but was not informed of why the mix-up had taken place.

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Her six-year-old son, who has autism, overheard her reading the letter out to her husband - and has since asked if Rosabella is going to die.

“I should never have received that letter,” Donna said.

“The way they worded it was absolutely disgusting.”

Donna added that she had no confidence left in the benefits system.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We apologise unreservedly for the distress caused by our correspondence with Mrs Johnson, as we have directly to her over the phone.

“DLA is awarded based on the impact a disability has on a child and the amount depends on how much care and supervision they need.

“Decisions are made using the information we have at the time.

“We have received the reconsideration request from Mrs Johnson and are currently processing this.”