Leeds woman’s fight for benefits cash after diagnosis

Nicola and Ben Fleeson.
Nicola and Ben Fleeson.
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A woman who has damaged numerous bones because of a rare condition that causes her to pass out – is at breaking point after waiting eight months for new disability benefits.

Nicola Fleeson has fractured bones in both feet, both hands, has metal plates in one hand and metal rods in her spine.

The Pudsey woman, who was born with kidney problems and had one removed last year, was diagnosed as partially sighted in February. She immediately applied for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) - designed to help with extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or disability. But she has still not received a penny.

The 49-year-old said: “It has been a total nightmare. I don’t need this battle. It’s so stressful and I’ve got enough to cope with.”

Mrs Fleeson gets £8 a week in working tax credits but was told by Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) staff that if she was receiving PIPs, credits alone would amount to at least £65 a week – meaning she could currently be almost £2,000 down. She said the DWP had bungled by initially sending her the wrong forms and had also ignored her request for large print forms, which she was unable to read.

Her situation is all the more stressful since her husband and primary carer Ben broke his shoulder last month, leaving him unable to drive and cutting his income, as well as impeding his ability to care for his wife.

She said the delays could be affecting other sources of support as they rely on her receiving PIPs. The system was introduced in April 2013 to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Mrs Fleeson also blasted Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough MP Stuart Andrew for failing to speed up the process. He said: “We have escalated Mrs Fleeson’s case and are aware that the process does take some time.”

Stating Mrs Fleeson been contacted about an assessment date, a DWP spokesman said the DLA system was “extremely outdated” and it is taking “concerned action to bring down waiting times” for PIP.


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