Disabled reader Doreen Crouchman was grateful to her daughter for reminding her she was entitled to claim winter fuel payments.
The 63-year-old and former Portsmouth canteen assistant was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007, and has been a wheelchair user for three years.
She relies on her husband Jack and daughter Linda to sort out any domestic problems and help her get out and about.
Last September, as autumn was setting in, Linda realised that her mum hadn’t claimed winter fuel payments to help with heating costs.
The extra £200 would come in handy because being largely housebound and immobile means keeping warm is a top priority.
Pensioners normally start receiving the payments automatically when they retire, but because her mum wasn’t entitled to any other benefits she’d need to make an initial claim to set the ball rolling.
Putting in the claim a year earlier had been overlooked.
Husband Jack was still working part-time and hadn’t reached retirement age and the claim fell off the family radar.
Linda checked with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, and with their guidance helped her mum complete the paperwork for last winter’s payment and a retrospective claim for the previous year’s entitlement.
Two months later when her mum hadn’t received an acknowledgement or reply, she rang the winter fuel payments helpline to ask how the application was coming along.
They said the payment was on its way and Doreen would be receiving it ‘soon’, including the back payment for the previous year.
Reassured, Linda passed on the good news to her mum but the new year came and went and still no winter fuel payment had shown up in Doreen’s nominated bank account.
Totally perplexed, Linda decided to dash off yet another letter to the Department for Work and Pensions complaining that the payment hadn’t come through despite the previous promises.
But as the weeks passed and no reply or payment was forthcoming, she persuaded her mum to contact Streetwise to see if we could help to get the matter sorted.
On learning we were chasing up her case a relieved Doreen said: ‘It was my daughter I felt sorry for because she has been tearing her hair out for weeks trying to apply for a benefit I’d religiously paid in for during my working life.
‘In the winter we have to have the heating on 24/7 because I easily feel the cold.
‘Fuel costs are a major part of our household budget.
‘I’ve always paid the full stamp and just when the money would have really made a difference to the cost of our heating bills all I’ve got to show for it is the runaround.’
As soon as we put Doreen’s story to the DWP it acted promptly to get it fixed.
A spokesperson said: ‘We were sorry to hear of Mrs Crouchman’s problems about claiming the winter fuel allowance.
‘Unfortunately it was complicated by the fact that an incorrect national insurance number was entered on the original application form.
‘Although what went wrong should have been picked up earlier the process just fell by the wayside instead of being concluded. The good news is that we’ve contacted her to check that she’s now received both payments and to apologise for the delay.’
The much-relieved mother and daughter duo thanked Streetwise for promptly helping them out.
Linda said: ‘We are so grateful for all you did for us. You’ll be pleased to know mum said if it hadn’t been for you she didn’t believe the problem would ever have been sorted.
‘Thank you so much for all your support.’