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Woman’s benefits cut after officials cancelled meeting

Long battle: Mrs Geale spent ten months with lower benefits PICTURE: SWNS

A DISABLED woman’s benefits were cut for ten months after assessors cancelled her appointment — then penalised her for failing to turn up.

Teresa Geale suffers from osteoarthiritis, which prevents her from walking properly, and ocular migraines that cause temporary blindness.

She was on a bus five minutes from a work capability assessment session when she received a voicemail telling her staff were running late and it would be rearranged.

Days later, the 63-year-old received a letter asking why she did not attend the appointment in Canterbury. Despite providing proof, she was told by the Department for Work and Pensions that because she had failed to show without good reason, her entitlement to employment support allowance had ended.

The income of the former pub manager from Birchington, Kent, was halved, forcing her to make food last longer and sign on at the job centre even though doctors said she was unfit to work.

Mrs Geale said: ‘They were calling me a liar. I don’t know if it was utter incompetence or utter arrogance. I’ve worked hard all my life, but I’m no longer able to.’

She has won a legal battle to have ten months’ benefits reinstated after a tribunal judge took less than five minutes to find in her favour.

The University of Kent’s Law Clinic took up her case after an earlier tribunal ruled the appointment could not have been cancelled. The clinic’s Graham Tegg said it was ‘an example of the all too frequent everyday injustices’ of the DWP.

The DWP confirmed it had reinstated Mrs Geale’s benefits and backdated payments.