The Bristol Post has reported that a partially-sighted woman, who was only able to walk with the aid of a stick, has killed herself following refusal of benefits. {jcomments on}

Jacqueline Harris suffered from crippling arthritis in her neck and back due to her slipped discs but her pain was exacerbated after an unsuccessful operation on her neck last year.

She was left in agony every time one of her arms was touched, making everyday tasks a huge challenge.

Despite being in agony which strong pain relief could not ease, the 53-year-old was deemed to be fit for work following a government (Atos) health assessment and told to find a job.

Her sister, Mrs Norman, claims the verdict that she was ineligible for benefits drove her to take her own life earlier this month. She said her fitness-to-work assessment at a government-run centre lasted only a few minutes.

She claims that “during the test she was only asked one question – ‘Did you come here by bus?’ to which she answered 'yes'…she hadn't even had the chance to take her coat off..” She says that her sister spent two hours on two buses getting to the assessment centre.

The widow later received a letter by post telling her to find employment.

Following the ruling, her benefits were stopped in January and she sought help through the Citizens' Advice Bureau.

Her first appeal against the decision failed, but the second appeal was due to be heard at HM Court Tribunal Service in Cardiff.

Ms Harris was found dead at her home having taken an overdose two weeks before the hearing was due to take place.

Her sister added: "She said couldn't do it anymore and that no-one was listening to her and no-one cared. She told me she couldn't work and that nobody believed her.

She just wanted her benefit so she could have avoided the pressure of work – it wasn't a massive amount of money."

"How much grief, pain and anguish do you have to go through before they realise?"

Read the full story here


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