A mum has branded a government agency ‘absolutely disgusting’ after it mistakenly sent her a letter saying her 15-month-old baby had died.
Donna Johnson, 31, said she’d written to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in April about getting a disability allowance for her daughter, 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.
Donna was furious and 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, who may not be getting the funding she requires.
She said: ‘I should never have received that letter. The way they worded it was absolutely disgusting.
‘I had literally had just put Rosabella to bed, and I just ran up stairs 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.’
Rosabella suffers from hip dysplasia, scoliosis and torticollis, which affect the tot’s spine, hip and neck muscles.
It means she requires round-the-clock care from her family and regular hospital check-ups.
Donna, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, said her daughter needed a procedure to put her left hip back in place and will face major surgery into her adult years.
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.
Donna says she received the decision on July 21, saying ‘she was going to be feeling better by December 2022’, which she was puzzled by, as he daughter is ‘never going to get better’.
Six days later, Donna received another letter from DWP – only this time the agency told her that her daughter had now passed away.
Donna said her six-year-old son, Alfie, who is autistic, 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.
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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.’
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