Leicestershire mum ‘didn’t have cancer enough’ to receive benefits

Katie Larn said she thought at first that someone might have made a mistake

A mother of three said she was told by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that she “didn’t have cancer enough” when she applied for benefits.

A single mum-of-three claims she was told by the Department of Work and Pensions that she “didn’t have cancer enough” when she applied for benefits after being diagnosed with stage three cancer.

Katie Larn was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in November last year and medics immediately set her on a treatment programme which included regular chemotherapy sessions.

The 29-year-old said: “I went to the doctors feeling breathless and thinking I had a chest infection, I’d suffered with them before and just thought it was the same thing again.

“I was sent for an x-ray and there was nothing unusual about it until they asked me to go to the Glenfield Hospital because they’d seen some shadows on my lung.

“I thought it would be scarring or something from before but then I was diagnosed with cancer.

“It was a complete shock, all I could think about was the boys. I was so worried about them.

Katie Larn was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma last year, and after starting treatment she applied for Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

The 29-year-old was told she did not qualify for support after a home visit.

A DWP spokesman said it is “committed to ensuring that people with health conditions get the support they need”.

“Decisions are made based on all the information that’s available to us at the time, including evidence from a claimant’s GP or medical specialist,” he said.

Ms Larn – who is currently waiting for a date for a tribunal to review her case – told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) she believes the assessor who did her home visit thought she was less ill than she was.

“I’d only had one session of chemotherapy then and it was before I’d lost my hair and the steroids had taken effect which made me put weight on,” she said.

“I can’t help thinking they must have thought I looked alright so I can’t have been that bad.”

Ms Larn received a letter informing her she would not be receiving PIP six weeks after the visit at her home in Braunstone, Leicestershire, and she said she called the DWP to query the results.

“The man on the phone was really good and explained things to me, I asked him ‘So basically I haven’t got cancer enough?’ and he said yes and that I didn’t have enough points to be considered,” she said.

Katie recently found out she is in remission something she said was a “huge relief” and the “best news”.

She added: “I know that I am in remission now but the point is that this benefit designed to help people in my situation wasn’t there when I needed it.

“You always read about people scamming the system and it’s not right that genuine cases go without help.

“There were days when I couldn’t get out of bed I was so poorly and in so much pain.

“I do receive other benefits but that shouldn’t come into it when it comes to having cancer.

“I have worked since I left school and only stopped when I had my youngest son and as soon as he is at school I will work again.”

What the DWP said

A DWP spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring that people with health conditions get the support they need, which is why PIP examines how a person’s condition impacts them on a daily basis.

“Decisions are made based on all the information that’s available to us at the time, including evidence from a claimant’s GP or medical specialist.

“Anyone can appeal a decision to a free independent tribunal, or can apply for the benefit again if their condition changes.

“Ms Larn continues to receive Income Support and other benefits while awaiting the outcome of her PIP appeal.”

Katie is now waiting for a tribunal date.

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