Painter and decorator Kevin Dooley, 48, who was deemed fit to work by the DWP, texted his daughter “I love you”
A desperate grandfather told by doctors he was too sick to work killed himself after his benefits were cut, an inquest has heard.
Painter and decorator Kevin Dooley, 48, who was deemed fit to work by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), texted his daughter “I love you” before hanging himself.
His daughter, Leanne Dooley, 28, found him hanging in his bedroom just days before Christmas last year and he died three days later in hospital.
She told Wakefield coroner’s court how she was certain his death was caused by his benefit woes.
In a read statement, Leanne said: “I am of the firm belief the issues regarding my father’s fitness to work and the subsequent stopping of his benefits had a very detrimental effect which resulted in worsening anxiety and depression and ultimately caused him to take his own life.”
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) assessors had written to Mr Dooley requesting a consultation in July last year and he was then declared fit to work.
The decision was taken despite Mr Dooley suffering breathing problems caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and doctors telling him he was too sick to return to his job.
Mr Dooley lodged an appeal following the decision by assessors at Leeds Centre for Health and Disability Assessments, run on behalf of the DWP, but it was rejected.
His employment support allowance was then stopped in November.
His mental health suffered as a result and Mr Dooley feared he would be without money and may have to apply for universal credit, the inquest heard.
His daughter planned to help him take his case to a tribunal.
During the 20-minute inquest, a court heard Mr Dooley, from Leeds, West Yorks., had suffered from anxiety and depression since 2014 and received the DWP letter in July 2018.
Mum-0f-two, Leanne, 27, a pharmacy healthcare assistant, added: “At the time I tried to convince him not to worry.
“Following an assessment, he was deemed fit for work and he appealed the decision but it was upheld.
“The only option available to him was to take it to a tribunal. My father’s payments stopped in November, he then had to apply for universal credit. He was extremely worried about not having money.
“I visited my father on December 17, he was very quiet and worried. He was worried about his benefits having been stopped.
“I had to leave him to go Christmas shopping and to pick my children up. I received a text from him saying love you. I knew straight away there was something wrong.”
He was found hanging in an upstairs bedroom by Leanne who performed CPR before calling an ambulance.
A decision was taken to turn off his life support machine and Mr Dooley died from a hypoxic brain injury due to asphyxiation secondary to hanging at Leeds General Infirmary on December 20th last year.
Doctor Caroline Abbott GP said: “He attended the surgery on August 30,
2018, and was in a state of panic about his DWP medical in four days time.
“It would appear Kevin’s mental health was severely and adversely affected after the DWP told him he was fit to work, this affected his housing benefit.”
Area coroner Jonathan Leach recorded a conclusion of suicide.
He said: “It is apparent from Miss Dooley’s statement that issues regarding his fitness to work and stopping his benefits had a very detrimental effect on him and ultimately caused him to take his own life.
“Kevin didn’t leave a note or any indication as to why he would take his own life so we don’t know if that was the case.”
Speaking previously about her dad’s death, Leanne said he had been informed the £70 a week and housing benefit entitlement he received would be cut.
She said at the time he had three inhalers and “all kinds of medications”
and would black out during coughing fits.
“The assessor said he was fit to work because he told them he could walk to the shop sometimes and occasionally minded his grandkids,” she said.
“But most days he was so ill he couldn’t get out of bed. No employer would give him a job because he wasn’t physically able to hold one down.
“You only have to look at the news to see this is happening to many people.
They are being deemed fit to work and killing themselves. It’s an absolute disgrace.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Dooley’s family at this difficult time.
“We want to ensure that people with disabilities and health conditions get the support they’re entitled to and decisions are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.
“Mr Dooley continued to receive benefits during his appeal.”
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