Dead man declared 'unfit for work'

Graham Shawcross, who was declared 'unfit for work' four months after his death. His wife claims the stress of the benefits process killed him.

Yvonne Shawcross

First published in News
Last updated
Bury Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A GRIEVING widow was told the appeal against the loss of her husband’s incapacity benefit was successful — four months after his death.

Graham Shawcross, of Coleridge Avenue, Radcliffe, died of a heart attack on February 17 aged 63.

Yvonne, his wife of 23 years, claims the stress of losing more than £400 a month in benefits and launching an appeal against the decision caused his death.

In November, Mr Shawcross received a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) informing him he was no longer entitled to incapacity benefit after an assessment found he was fit for work.

But Mr Shawcross suffered from Addison’s disease — a rare adrenal gland disorder which affects hormone production.

The condition, which he treated with steroid medication, caused exhaustion, muscle weakness, dizziness, fainting and cramps and can lead to adrenal crisis, which can be fatal.

Mrs Shawcross said: “Graham would surely be alive today if it was not for the stress.

“The month before he died, you could tell he was going downhill.

“His stress levels were going through the roof and he was upping his steroids to higher levels every day.

“Graham was talking about his appeal constantly and writing the details out dozens of times a day.

“He was a proud man and what upset him most was that he thought they were calling him a liar.”

Mr Shawcross had suffered from Addison’s disease since the age of 21 but worked at Radcliffe Paper Mill for 36 years before taking a job at Folsana Pressed Sections in Sidney Street, Bolton.

He left due to ill health about a decade ago.

After appealing the decision at the end of January, he was summoned to a hearing in Bury on June 19 — despite Mrs Shawcross informing the DWP of his death.

On June 24, a second letter arrived stating Mr Shawcross’ appeal had been granted and he was eligible for Employment and Support Allowance for at least the next 24 months.

Mr Shawcross, father to 30-year-old Gary and Rebecca, aged 21, volunteered as the treasurer of the Bolton Road estate tenants and residents association.

Mrs Shawcross, who runs a school kitchen, said when he attended his medical assessment with Atos Healthcare he brought with him a large folder about his condition, which was not consulted.

She added: “If Graham could have worked he would have loved to work.

“As it turns out, he did not even need to go through all the stress, because he won his appeal. But it was all for nothing.”

Bury South MP Ivan Lewis said: “Graham Shawcross was a remarkable man, who for nearly 40 years, worked hard despite having a chronic illness.

“I am demanding that Iain Duncan Smith conducts a review of Graham’s case and issues an apology to his family.”

A DWP spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with the family of Graham Shawcross.

"A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken by DWP following a thorough independent assessment, and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist. ”

Comments (21)

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10:00am Fri 4 Jul 14

Beyond News Forum says...

I feel sorry for this lady. This is exactly why these independent 'specialists' who get bungs should not be fit to conduct investigations. Yes mistakes are made but it does not take a rocket scientist to take a look at medical records and see serious illness, disease, disability or any other serious health conditions. Too much red tape, too much paperwork... too many monkeys.
I feel sorry for this lady. This is exactly why these independent 'specialists' who get bungs should not be fit to conduct investigations. Yes mistakes are made but it does not take a rocket scientist to take a look at medical records and see serious illness, disease, disability or any other serious health conditions. Too much red tape, too much paperwork... too many monkeys. Beyond News Forum
  • Score: 83

10:26am Fri 4 Jul 14

goldie47 says...

lets hope the faceless/spineless jobsworth loses his/her job....in all probability....non medically qualified
lets hope the faceless/spineless jobsworth loses his/her job....in all probability....non medically qualified goldie47
  • Score: 57

11:07am Fri 4 Jul 14

JustBecause says...

Always sad when someone dies, but too many assumptions all round I am afraid.
Always sad when someone dies, but too many assumptions all round I am afraid. JustBecause
  • Score: -38

11:44am Fri 4 Jul 14

breightmet kid says...

There is only one person you can blame here and its a politician by the name of Iain Duncan Smith, a pompous man who once said he could quite easily live on £50 per week benefits. He probably could after fattening himself up beforehand.

Every sympathy to Mrs. Shawcross. I wonder if she will get a reply from the above named or will she get some sort of huge compensation which she deserves.
There is only one person you can blame here and its a politician by the name of Iain Duncan Smith, a pompous man who once said he could quite easily live on £50 per week benefits. He probably could after fattening himself up beforehand. Every sympathy to Mrs. Shawcross. I wonder if she will get a reply from the above named or will she get some sort of huge compensation which she deserves. breightmet kid
  • Score: 68

12:10pm Fri 4 Jul 14

Terry McC says...

1,600 people died before their assessment had been completed.

This should take 13 weeks, while the claimant gets a reduced payment of up to £67.50 a week, but delays have led to claims the system is in "meltdown". Freedom of Information Act disgusting
1,600 people died before their assessment had been completed. This should take 13 weeks, while the claimant gets a reduced payment of up to £67.50 a week, but delays have led to claims the system is in "meltdown". Freedom of Information Act disgusting Terry McC
  • Score: 48

1:39pm Fri 4 Jul 14

TheOneTrueWord says...

Just awful. Works all his life pays NI and Tax and claims benefits for sickness because he is ill, and treated like this...

Welcome to BROKEN BRITAIN!
Just awful. Works all his life pays NI and Tax and claims benefits for sickness because he is ill, and treated like this... Welcome to BROKEN BRITAIN! TheOneTrueWord
  • Score: 58

2:16pm Fri 4 Jul 14

Janch1 says...

Terrible. How awful that a man who worked all his life and through a genuine illness became too poorly to work was treated like this. How on earth can this happen when the lazy work shy scroungers can get money hand over fist for sitting around doing nothing all day? How very sad and my heart goes out to his wife. There is something horribly wrong with a system that penalises people who are truly unable to continue working through no fault of their own but gives money like sweets to the shirkers and immigrants who have put nothing into this country. A disgrace.
Terrible. How awful that a man who worked all his life and through a genuine illness became too poorly to work was treated like this. How on earth can this happen when the lazy work shy scroungers can get money hand over fist for sitting around doing nothing all day? How very sad and my heart goes out to his wife. There is something horribly wrong with a system that penalises people who are truly unable to continue working through no fault of their own but gives money like sweets to the shirkers and immigrants who have put nothing into this country. A disgrace. Janch1
  • Score: 34

2:32pm Fri 4 Jul 14

7H3 541N7 says...

Yet another death attributable to IDS and the murderous tories. A medical assessment should only be carried out by well qualified medical practitioners. Not just by someone ticking a few boxes without a proper medical background. That's like me giving someone a driving test when I don't even know how to drive.
Yet another death attributable to IDS and the murderous tories. A medical assessment should only be carried out by well qualified medical practitioners. Not just by someone ticking a few boxes without a proper medical background. That's like me giving someone a driving test when I don't even know how to drive. 7H3 541N7
  • Score: 43

3:57pm Fri 4 Jul 14

Gore Seer says...

Is There Any Branch Of Government Fit For Purpose, Yes One The Payments To M.P.
Is There Any Branch Of Government Fit For Purpose, Yes One The Payments To M.P. Gore Seer
  • Score: 28

4:42pm Fri 4 Jul 14

Where'swally says...

My sister broke her back in a work based incident. Fortunately she partially recovered, but had something still broken on the inside which left her on round the clock meds that'd knock a hippo to sleep. She had to move home to her mums in accrington which was one of the first boroughs to use ATOS. She had a well paid job she went to uni for and got a degree to do this career in health care.she was initially put on sickness benefits but once ATOS got involved they declared her fit to work as she can stand unaided for more than 2 minutes(not much longer though). She said what type of job can I do then??.... they can assess yet they cant find the jobs you're supposed to do!!! she appealed and was assessed again. this time the "doctor" said she WHINGED when she was asked to stand up, when she meant to say WINCED due to the pain. it took 6 MONTHS of legal and other issues to get this resolved as the "doctor" refused to amend the wording yet admitted she meant WINCED. the "doctor" didnt speak english as a first language. The stress and hassle this caused for a genuine case was shocking. they only chose ATOS as they could give them the answers they needed not do the right thing and fairly assess people. I hope IDS suffers from sever sickness too and suffers the same outcome as many deserving sufferers have got....
My sister broke her back in a work based incident. Fortunately she partially recovered, but had something still broken on the inside which left her on round the clock meds that'd knock a hippo to sleep. She had to move home to her mums in accrington which was one of the first boroughs to use ATOS. She had a well paid job she went to uni for and got a degree to do this career in health care.she was initially put on sickness benefits but once ATOS got involved they declared her fit to work as she can stand unaided for more than 2 minutes(not much longer though). She said what type of job can I do then??.... they can assess yet they cant find the jobs you're supposed to do!!! she appealed and was assessed again. this time the "doctor" said she WHINGED when she was asked to stand up, when she meant to say WINCED due to the pain. it took 6 MONTHS of legal and other issues to get this resolved as the "doctor" refused to amend the wording yet admitted she meant WINCED. the "doctor" didnt speak english as a first language. The stress and hassle this caused for a genuine case was shocking. they only chose ATOS as they could give them the answers they needed not do the right thing and fairly assess people. I hope IDS suffers from sever sickness too and suffers the same outcome as many deserving sufferers have got.... Where'swally
  • Score: 46

5:14pm Fri 4 Jul 14

pompeyfaith says...

"A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken by DWP following a thorough independent assessment, and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist. ”

Same old Same old excuse obviously DWP that was not the case, you are all culpable and the WCA is dead we all know about time you and this vile Govt dis also
"A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken by DWP following a thorough independent assessment, and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist. ” Same old Same old excuse obviously DWP that was not the case, you are all culpable and the WCA is dead we all know about time you and this vile Govt dis also pompeyfaith
  • Score: 13

6:36pm Fri 4 Jul 14

Best an says...

Terrible the poor man he worked until he really couldn't and then is more or less called a liar, what a surprise ! yet people who walk around with sticks and crutches, who when you watch carefully don't need them at all, they get away with it About right for this country
Terrible the poor man he worked until he really couldn't and then is more or less called a liar, what a surprise ! yet people who walk around with sticks and crutches, who when you watch carefully don't need them at all, they get away with it About right for this country Best an
  • Score: 15

7:07pm Fri 4 Jul 14

DIVORCE says...

I knew Mr Shawcross for nearly 40 years, he would have worked if he could , he was a very generous man, helped where he could, you could NOT have met a nicer man than Graham, my thoughts are with the family now xx hope the family get what they deserve, I know it will not bring him back or take the pain away, something needs to be done with the system ASAP. People who come in from different countries get loads of help, what about us genuine people ? Have they forgot about us ?
I knew Mr Shawcross for nearly 40 years, he would have worked if he could , he was a very generous man, helped where he could, you could NOT have met a nicer man than Graham, my thoughts are with the family now xx hope the family get what they deserve, I know it will not bring him back or take the pain away, something needs to be done with the system ASAP. People who come in from different countries get loads of help, what about us genuine people ? Have they forgot about us ? DIVORCE
  • Score: 23

10:21pm Fri 4 Jul 14

robteifi says...

This is very sad, but also very strange. Sad to say that it's normally the case that the deceased are assessed as 'fit to work'
This is very sad, but also very strange. Sad to say that it's normally the case that the deceased are assessed as 'fit to work' robteifi
  • Score: 7

11:13pm Fri 4 Jul 14

fourbanks says...

my very sincerest sympathies to his wife and hopefully she will with the many other thousands that have died get justice at some point in a court of law
my very sincerest sympathies to his wife and hopefully she will with the many other thousands that have died get justice at some point in a court of law fourbanks
  • Score: 8

12:23am Sat 5 Jul 14

shelllanc says...

Shame he hadn't found out about our group fightback4justice as we are based in bury and was set up to advocate for people like him in benefit appeals. Yet another cruel and irrational DWP decision. We could have attended the medical and/or filled his form to prevent this from happening.
Shame he hadn't found out about our group fightback4justice as we are based in bury and was set up to advocate for people like him in benefit appeals. Yet another cruel and irrational DWP decision. We could have attended the medical and/or filled his form to prevent this from happening. shelllanc
  • Score: 5

2:39am Sat 5 Jul 14

mr.mark.c says...

shelllanc wrote:
Shame he hadn't found out about our group fightback4justice as we are based in bury and was set up to advocate for people like him in benefit appeals. Yet another cruel and irrational DWP decision. We could have attended the medical and/or filled his form to prevent this from happening.
What medical ?
Its a short chat with a failed nurse.
[quote][p][bold]shelllanc[/bold] wrote: Shame he hadn't found out about our group fightback4justice as we are based in bury and was set up to advocate for people like him in benefit appeals. Yet another cruel and irrational DWP decision. We could have attended the medical and/or filled his form to prevent this from happening.[/p][/quote]What medical ? Its a short chat with a failed nurse. mr.mark.c
  • Score: 2

7:56am Sat 5 Jul 14

rostron says...

Time & again I read of these assessments being carried out by trained nurses or similar.
I still say this is illegal, they are not qualified Doctors, have not studied to be a Doctor ,therefore should not be allowed to do this.
It is well known that any letters, diagnosis of the person is ignored from qualified Doctors, even those that are Consultants, who in this country are supposed to be the top men in their field.
My sympathies goes to this mans family & anyone else who suffers at the hands of ATOS !
Time & again I read of these assessments being carried out by trained nurses or similar. I still say this is illegal, they are not qualified Doctors, have not studied to be a Doctor ,therefore should not be allowed to do this. It is well known that any letters, diagnosis of the person is ignored from qualified Doctors, even those that are Consultants, who in this country are supposed to be the top men in their field. My sympathies goes to this mans family & anyone else who suffers at the hands of ATOS ! rostron
  • Score: 5

9:38am Sat 5 Jul 14

germain2 says...

IDS was the party leader for a very short while before being replaced. His leadership left alot to be desired!
I strongly believe he is disillusioned and concentrating on trying to achieve his promises to the party. Similarly to 'hey, look at me'
He just brings death and destruction.
IDS was the party leader for a very short while before being replaced. His leadership left alot to be desired! I strongly believe he is disillusioned and concentrating on trying to achieve his promises to the party. Similarly to 'hey, look at me' He just brings death and destruction. germain2
  • Score: 1

11:42pm Sat 5 Jul 14

Rememberscarborough says...

The people who are responsible for this poor man's death are those who lie and cheat to receive benefits that they know they're not entitled to. Without them the people who do need the help wouldn't have to face these humiliating "exams".

Benefit cheats really are killers!!
The people who are responsible for this poor man's death are those who lie and cheat to receive benefits that they know they're not entitled to. Without them the people who do need the help wouldn't have to face these humiliating "exams". Benefit cheats really are killers!! Rememberscarborough
  • Score: 1

5:14am Mon 7 Jul 14

mattytaylorlikescake says...

I knew this man personally he was the most kind hearted person ever, what the government has done is wrong, it knocks me for sick , my love and respect go to his wife Yvonne , daughter Rebecca and son Gary, who I also know personally, Rest in paradise graham , you were too so soon xxxxx
I knew this man personally he was the most kind hearted person ever, what the government has done is wrong, it knocks me for sick , my love and respect go to his wife Yvonne , daughter Rebecca and son Gary, who I also know personally, Rest in paradise graham , you were too so soon xxxxx mattytaylorlikescake
  • Score: 2

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