A LAW firm in Huddersfield has won compensation for a 61-year-old pensioner who became locked in a 21-month battle with two Government organisations.
The Doncaster woman was awarded the maximum compensation recommended under Department of Work and Pensions guidelines as well as a written apology after claims of maladministration were upheld.
Sangeeta Enright, welfare benefits adviser at solicitors Ridley and Hall, said: “My client was having difficulties with a Pension Credit Overpayment Appeal. She had tried to deal with the situation herself with no success for over 18 months.
“She had worked for one week in November, 2010 and had provided the Pensions Service with all the relevant information before and after she did this work.
“However, she was asked to pay back two months’ worth of Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. She had appealed the decisions.
“She had received a series of decisions, some contradictory, from the Pensions Service, and from the Debt Management Department, whose role it is to make overpayment and recovery decisions.
“The correspondence was voluminous, confusing and upsetting for her. The case made no progress through the appeals procedure for many months.”
Ridley and Hall complained to the Parliamentary Ombudsman on behalf of the woman and the Pensions Service took two months to unravel the affair before the Secretary of State agreed that any overpayment could be written off.
The woman was paid £500 as a consolatory payment and received an apology.
Sangeeta said: “I do not believe the system is operating properly.
“It would be almost impossible for anyone without a benefits adviser to understand the complicated decisions sent out by both departments.”