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Mum struggling to pay heating bills after delay in disability claim

Joan Brown of Shoreswood Drive, Silksworth, who suffers from arthritis has been waiting six months from a fitness to work report from Atos.

Joan Brown of Shoreswood Drive, Silksworth, who suffers from arthritis has been waiting six months from a fitness to work report from Atos.

A MUM says she is struggling to heat her home because of delays in processing a disability claim.

Silksworth woman Joan Brown had to give up her job with Sunderland City Council after developing severe arthritis in her knees.

Last July, the 44-year-old contacted with Department for Work and Pensions who said she needed a medical with Atos, the company which carries out fitness to work examinations on behalf of the Government.

After completing the medical to determine whether or not she is eligible for a Personal Independence Payment, Ms Brown, who has a grown-up son, says she heard nothing more from Atos for weeks despite calling and writing letters to the organisation.

However, she was then told that her medical report was “missing” and that this was the reason for the hold-up in her case.

Today, she hit out at Atos staff for not sorting the problem.

The company has now apologised and said it is working to process the claim and confirmed it will backdate any payments should she be successful.

Atos, a French-run IT firm, came under huge criticism last year and was told to improve its services after a Government audit found an “unacceptable reduction” in the quality of its written reports.

“It is just ridiculous,” said Ms Brown, who used to work in the Telecare department of the council.

“When they told me they had lost my medical report I couldn’t believe it. Surely there is a copy somewhere?”

Ms Brown has been receiving Employment Support Allowance since she left work but says she will most likely be due more money once her medical is completed.

“I’m at the end of my tether and struggling to live week to week at the minute,” she added.

“Now, I don’t really care about the money being backdated or not.

“I don’t like being on the dole, but I’m not able to work even though I want to.

“Am I the only one going through this with Atos? I can’t be.

“I want it sorting now because it’s gone on too long and I’m not waiting another eight months.”

A spokesman for Atos told the Echo: “We understand how frustrating this must be and we have apologised to Ms Brown directly for the delay in processing her claim for Personal Independence Payment.

“We are working as swiftly as possible to provide a detailed report to the Department for Work and Pensions.”

 

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