8,000 people have died just months after being rejected for disability benefit

Almost 8,000 people have died within six months of being rejected for a key disability benefit, Tory ministers admit.

New figures reveal 7,990 people had an application for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) turned down – only to die within six months – since 2013.

3,680 of them were turned down less than three months before their death.

People who had PIP turned down make up more than 10% of the 73,800 people, in total, who died within six months of registering a PIP claim.

DWP chiefs today insisted there was "no evidence" to suggest people died for the same reason they were trying to claim PIP. And those hit were only a small fraction of the millions of PIP claims since 2013.

But campaigners argue the assessment system is broken – with 72% of PIP claimants who’ve been refused and appeal to a tribunal winning their case.

And Labour MP Madeleine Moon, who obtained the figures, said she had uncovered cases of terminally ill people having PIP wrongly denied.

She said those hit have "tragically fallen through the cracks" when they needed help the most.

The figures, highlighted by welfare campaigner Alex Tiffin, were provided in a written answer to Parliament by minister for disabled people Sarah Newton.

They cover a five-year period to April 2018 in which 3.6million PIP applications were made, including many people forced to switch from old benefit DLA.

PIP is worth up to £145 a week to manage everyday costs of being disabled. 3.8million people have been assessed for PIP since it launched in 2013, and 2million receive it.

But hundreds of thousands of former DLA claimants have been left with either less cash or none at all after the switch – 44% of those moved up to October 2016.

Ms Newton insisted claims for terminally ill people are fast-tracked and dealt with within six working days – down from 11 when PIP was introduced.

She added some of the 7,990 people will have later won back benefits on appeal before their death.

But MP Ms Moon said: "These shameful figures reveal how potentially gravely ill people who should be eligible for benefits, have tragically fallen through the cracks of a system that should be there to support them as they approach the end of life.

"We have uncovered many cases where terminally ill people have had their PIP applications rejected when applying under Normal Rules and have died within a year.

"It is disgraceful that some people who are dying have had their claims rejected."

It comes after Ms Moon revealed 17,070 people had also died waiting for a decision on their PIP claim over five years.

DWP officials said people claim PIP for various reasons, the majority of which are non-life-threatening.

A DWP spokeswoman said: "DWP decision makers take into consideration all the evidence provided and under PIP 31% of people get the highest possible support, compared with 15% under DLA.

"We fast-track the claim process for people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and we’re stopping unnecessary reassessments for people with the most severe and life-long conditions."

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