BLUNDERING bureaucrats sent their condolences to a Huddersfield man in the mistaken belief his wife had died.
Great-grandparents Ronald Wilkinson, aged 72, and Audrey, 73, of Edale Avenue, Newsome, could barely believe their eyes when they opened their mail.
The letter, from the Department for Work and Pensions' Preston office, began: "Dear Mr Wilkinson, we are sorry to hear that Audrey Wilkinson has died."
Although she suffers from dementia and arthritis, Mrs Wilkinson is otherwise in good health.
The letter had been sent to tell Mr Wilkinson, who receives Attendance Allowance cash for caring for his wife, that payments were to be stopped in the light of her "death".
He has slammed the DWP's Disability and Carers Service for its "incompetence".
He added: "I got that letter last Friday. I rang them straight up and asked them what they were playing at.
"Nobody should get anything like that," Mr Wilkinson added.
He was told by staff that a computer glitch had resulted in the error.
"If you feed rubbish into a computer you get rubbish out," said Mr Wilkinson.
Yesterday, he got a phone call from the DWP's York office, to be told that a different Audrey Wilkinson had died, leading to the mistake.
But Mr Wilkinson questioned how such a basic error could have been made.
"Had she got the same National Insurance number? Is she living in the same house as me?" he said.
"If there's another Audrey Wilkinson- if there's another 20 Audrey Wilkinsons - they all have different National Insurance numbers."
Mr Wilkinson was told he would not be left out of pocket and that the mistake had been corrected immediately.
But he says that is not enough and is demanding a written apology from the Disability and Carers Service.
He applied for an £53-a-week Attendance Allowance at the end of last year to care for Audrey.
She started suffering from dementia two years ago and her husband now cares for her 24 hours a day.
Jackie Halls, a DWP spokeswoman, apologised for the gaffe and said an investigation was being held.
She added: "The DWP is carrying out an investigation into this incident and how it happened.
"We will be writing to the gentleman about the matter. In the meantime I apologise to Mr Wilkinson and his wife for any distress."