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The death of James Oliver, a few months after DWP’s refusal to grant him personal independence payment (PIP).

What: James Oliver dies in hospital, after spending the last few months of his life in despair over the refusal of DWP to grant him PIP. Shortly before he died in hospital, in April this year, he had told his brother, Dave Smith: “I can’t believe it. I am dying, I am going to be dead, and I’m still not sick enough to get PIP.” Oliver, who had chronic liver disease caused by alcohol dependency, as well as other health conditions including scoliosis, hypertension and depression, had twice tried to claim PIP, but both times was found ineligible. His brother believes that the months of anxiety, depression and distress caused by this refusal to award him PIP last year hastened his death. Like many other campaigners, Smith believes ministers and senior civil servants should be held accountable in the courts for their failure to make the system safe for people in vulnerable situations. His brother believes James was twice turned down for PIP, on both occasions being awarded zero points by an Atos assessor. At the time of the first assessment, in 2016, he says of his brother: “His liver is failing, his other organs are giving up, he has scoliosis, he has a backside red raw from the incontinence, he has open sores all over his body, his stomach is permanently swollen and he holds it when trying to walk because of the pain, he has pain in his arms and legs, he is regularly coughing up blood and bleeding internally, he has piles and he has pain in both hands, he is wheezing and exhausted after a few steps and constantly needing an inhaler and he needs a stick or support of house furniture to walk.” By the time of the 2018 PIP assessment, his health had deteriorated even further and yet it is believed he was still awarded zero points by an assessor.

Why significant: Provides fresh evidence of links between the PIP assessment process – and not just the WCA – and the deaths of claimants.


Months of PIP distress ‘hastened my brother’s death’, Pring, 2019