By Anuji Varma, Birmingham Mail, 4th July 2012
A BIRMINGHAM dad died from a serious heart condition – weeks after Government assessors stopped his benefits and ruled he was fit for work.
Paul Turner, 52, from Erdington, was ordered to find a job in February following a medical review with doctors.
But he died on April 2 from ischaemic heart disease – caused, his family claim, by the stress of losing his benefits.
The dad-of-one was medically retired from his job as a stores manager for West Midlands Travel in 2000 after he suffered a heart attack. He later had to undergo a double bypass because of the condition.
Mr Turner, who also had angina, was claiming around £400 per month incapacity benefit until he was called in for a review at the Midlands Disability Benefits Centre in Five Ways in January.
Three weeks later he received a letter stating he was not entitled to the new Employment and Support Allowance, the controversial new payment that has replaced Incapacity Benefit.
On April 2 Mr Turner flew to France for a short family holiday with his wife and teenage son. Later that evening he suffered heart failure and died.
His death certificate recorded the cause as ischaemic heart disease, a condition which also cost the lives of his father and grandfather.
Mr Turner’s widow was too upset to speak about the case, but she is continuing his appeal to prove he was unfit for work.
But his devastated mum Sheila, 76, said: “We believe the claim he was fit to work brought on his death. He was very upset and worried that he would fail any medical given to him by a potential employer.
“He also thought the officials believed he was a fraud who should not have been claiming this benefit in the first place.
“But Paul was a very proud man. He was entitled to claim more through the system, but he didn’t.”
During the medical assessment Mr Turner’s family claim he did not undergo any physical tests, which could have picked up problems with his heart.
Mum-of-three Sheila added: “The observations of the healthcare professional were based on dialogue as the only two tests performed involved Paul either sitting in a chair or kneeling on a chair.
“They just asked questions about how long he could sit for, and looked at his back and hips.
“When Paul was told of the decision he was distraught. He didn’t know how he would explain the 12-year gap of not working to any employers. And he was worried about what people would think.”
Last night, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Our sympathy goes out to Mr Turner’s family during what is obviously a very difficult time.
‘‘The work capability assessment is just that – an assessment of what, if any, work a person could undertake.
‘‘Jobcentre Plus decision makers look at all available information, including any medical evidence, to support their claim.”