Mother, 31, is left feeling ‘physically sick’ after Department of Work and Pensions sent her letter saying her 15-month-old baby had died
- Donna Johnson, 31, wrote to the DWP about getting disability allowance for baby
- She was horrified to get a letter back saying sorry that the child had died
- Donna ran upstairs to check her daughter was okay after freaking out
- DWP have apologised and said they will consider Donna’s request for allowance
A mother has told of her ‘absolute disgust’ after the Department of Work and Pensions offered condolences for her disabled daughter’s death – who was sleeping upstairs.
Donna Johnson, 31, wrote to the DWP in April this year about getting a disability allowance for her 15-month-old Rosabella.
But she was left feeling ‘physically sick’ when she opened a letter from the agency that read: ‘I am sorry to hear that Miss Rosabella Johnson has died.’
The ‘freaked out’ mum-of-four, who’d recently lost an uncle, then dashed upstairs to cradle her precious baby girl and check if she was still okay.
And furious Donna said she’d later rung the DWP – who had initially refused to provide funding to her daughter – and received an apology from an agent over the phone.
However, the stay at home mum now says she’s lost confidence in the agency and suspects her daughter may have been ‘mixed up’ with a different child.
Donna Johnson, of Swarcliffe, with 15-month-old daughter Rosabella after the letter arrived
She said: ‘I should never have received that letter. The way they worded it was absolutely disgusting. I felt physically sick.
‘I had literally had just put Rosabella to bed, and I just ran upstairs to cuddle her as I get completely freaked out by stuff like that.
‘I rang them up and all they could say was that they were sorry. But that’s not the point.
‘Have they been looking at two claims at the same time and got her mixed up with a different child? It’s not like she has a common name – it’s very unique.’
Donna, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, applied for Disability Living Allowance on behalf of Rosabella, who suffers from hip dysplasia, scoliosis and torticollis in April this year.
The conditions, affecting the tot’s spine, hip and neck muscles, mean that she requires round-the-clock care from her family and regular hospital check-ups.
A DWP spokesperson apologised for the error and said they were reconsidering Donna’s request
Donna said her daughter has needed a procedure to put her left hip back in place and will face major surgery into her adult years – and is not allowed to bounce or jump.
But after her application was filed on the DWP’s system on May 3, Donna received a reply from the agency in July saying that her daughter didn’t qualify for any benefits.
She said: ‘I received the decision on July 21, and that basically said she was going to be feeling better by December 2022.
‘I’m not quite sure where they got that information from because she’s never going to get better.’
Just under a week later, on July 27, Donna received another letter from DWP – only this time the agency told her that her daughter had now passed away.
She said: ‘Literally a week later, I received this letter, so I rang the DWP.
‘They tried asking me to send the letter back to them and said that Rosabell will be better by December 6 – obviously claiming to know more than me and her consultant.
‘All they could do was apologise, but they couldn’t give me any information..’
Donna said her six-year-old son, Alfie, who has autism, was in the room when she read out the letter to her husband in a state of shock.
And distressingly, he had then spent the rest of the day asking if his sister Rosabella was going to pass away.
She said: ‘When I got the letter, my husband couldn’t understand why I was going mad, so I just read it out to him, and basically, Alfie was sitting on the other sofa.
‘All day he was asking if Rosabella was going to die.’
Donna now believes that Rosabella’s application may have got confused with another candidate’s and is concerned that her child won’t get the funding she requires.
She said: ‘I think that’s what they’ve done. I don’t know where they got the information about her from – and that she will be better by the end of this year.’
A DWP spokesperson apologised for the error and said they were reconsidering Donna’s request for the allowance on behalf of her daughter.
They said: ‘We apologise unreservedly for the distress caused by our correspondence with Mrs Johnson, as we have directly to her over the phone.
‘DLA is awarded based on the impact a disability has on a child and the amount depends on how much care and supervision they need.
‘Decisions are made using the information we have at the time.
‘We have received the reconsideration request from Mrs Johnson and are currently processing this.’