Rush Green couple urges others to bring PIP benefit case to tribunal after winning thousands back

Rosemary and Brian Relf, pictured here in 2013

Rosemary and Brian Relf, pictured here in 2013 - Credit: Archant

A disabled woman and her husband, who spent a year in financial hardship before a decision to cut their benefits was overturned by a tribunal, are urging others to stand up for their rights.

The first instalment of a £6,700 payment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reached Rosemary Relf, 57, of Rush Green, and her husband and carer Brian days before Christmas following an 11-month battle.

Rosemary, who suffers from a thyroid problem which has left her with a weakened immune system, frequent loss of balance and difficulty walking, was recognised unfit for work after an independent tribunal on August 1, 2016.

The couple brought their case to tribunal in a last resort move to overturn a decision to cut their benefits. In 2012, Rosemary was awarded “lifetime” Disability Living Allowance, but after completing an assessment under the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in 2015, she was denied financial aid.

Last year, the Recorder reported how Rosemary and Brian, who stopped working to become her full-time carer, saw their benefits cut and lost £115.50 a week of disability benefit and carer’s allowance.

The tribunal ruled the couple must be paid retrospectively for the past 11 months.

Brian told the Recorder: “The more we highlight this issue, the more people will stand up to the government. The way they treat disabled people is disgraceful.

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“People need to take their case to tribunal – even if they told us it would take 13 weeks and it took months. We struggled financially and ended up being fined because we couldn’t pay our bills on time.”

He previously told of having to sell their engagement rings to get by.

Rosemary will need to go through another assessment in 2018.

A DWP spokeswoman said decisions for PIP are made after considering “all the information provided by the claimant”.