Case studies

8 sick and disabled people who received appalling treatment from the government

How government social security changes caused misery – and in some cases tragedy.

Malcolm GrahamMalcolm Graham

Malcolm Graham was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in September 2013 and applied for Personal Independence Payments. Eight months later he was still waiting, despite calling government offices almost every day, and had fallen into debt. During that time he endured 10 weeks of chemotherapy and a 10-hour operation. 

Source: Guardian


Kelly MarieKelly Marie Lennon

Kelly Marie – who is blind and unable to walk and talk – faces losing her sensory room, which is also used to store her wheelchair. Her mother, who has had to cut down on food, cannot afford to pay the bedroom tax on it.

Source: Mirror


Lyn WardLyn Ward

Lyn had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer. She was forced back to work just days after finishing radiotherapy because her application for a Personal Independence Payment 11 months earlier had not even been acknowledged.

Source: Mirror


Graham RollinsonGraham Rollinson

Graham, a Royal Mail delivery driver with motor neurone disease, only received a Personal Independence Payment after his MP intervened, seven months after his diagnosis. Graham said: ‘It’s like hitting your head against a brick wall. You’re ringing an 0845 number and put on hold for 30 minutes. Then you see IDS on the telly saying ­everything’s working.’

Source: Mirror


AmyAmy Jones

The government's assessor, Atos, told Amy she would need to get ready for work in the next six months because her disability was expected to improve. She has cerebral palsy, a life-long and incurable condition.

Source: Huffington Post


TimTim Salter

Tim was partially sighted and suffered from agoraphobia. He was found hanged at his home just days before he was due to be evicted over rent arrears. The coroner concluded: “A major factor in his death was that his state benefits had been greatly reduced leaving him almost destitute and with threatened repossession of his home.”

Source: Stourbridge News


MarkMark Wood

Mark was ruled fit for work against the advice of his GP and despite having complex mental health conditions. He weighed five-and-a-half stone when he died of starvation.

Source: Guardian


SheilaSheila Holt

Sheila had a severe mental health condition, but was pushed onto a government work programme, with no support from specialist services, and also had to start paying the bedroom tax. As she began falling into poverty, she became increasingly agitated, and eventually was sectioned. A few days later, at the age of 47, she had a heart attack, and fell into a coma.

Source: Disability News Service