EXCLUSIVE: Campaigners say many were cash-strapped while they should each have had £5,000 extra the Mirror
Up to 15,000 disabled people have died before they received their share of a £970million benefits underpayment blunder.
Campaigners told the Mirror many were struggling while they should have had on average £5,000 extra.
The blunder happened when people were moved from incapacity benefits to Employment and Support Allowance between 2011 and 2014 under former Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
One widow, Jeanette, from Hull, has told how her husband received ESA for two years while he was being treated for lung cancer.
She said the extra money would have been a huge help at the time. “I had to give up work to care for my husband and all our savings went out the window,” she added.
Sue Bott, of Disability Rights UK, said the benefits issue had been a “disaster for disabled people”.
“Most faced financial difficulties because they were unable to work. Despite that, many still have not received the money they are owed – and some of them have died waiting for the back payment.”
Earlier this year, the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that 570,000 claimants “could be affected”.
After a freedom of information request by the Mirror, the DWP has admitted that 46,448 of them have “sadly since died”.
It admits that it does not know how many claimants were owed money when they died but claimed it was “likely to be much lower”.
In October, the DWP admitted that around 180,000 of the 570,000 people it had identified were owed an average of £5,000. If the same applies to those who have since died, it suggests up to 15,000 could have passed away awaiting payment.
Marsha de Cordova, Shadow Minister for Disability, said: “The DWP’s disregard for the impact of its errors is disgraceful.”
The DWP said that it is attempting to contact “next of kin to ensure that arrears are paid”.