Pregnant mum with epilepsy has benefits cut

Stephanie Rigby with her partner Leon Roberts, who has his own health issues
Stephanie Rigby with her partner Leon Roberts, who has his own health issues
  • Stephanie Rigby

A WIGAN mum who suffers from epilepsy has slammed benefits bosses who cut her payments after she missed an assessment because of a seizure.

The family of Stephanie Rigby also claim an officer suggested her fit should have been recorded to back up her explanation of missing an appointment.

I have suffered from epilepsy for 20 years and had an attack on the day I was due to go for an ESA assessment

But the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and agency Atos, which formerly dealt with Employment and Support Allowance cases, said they had no records of that conversation and said Ms Rigby had failed to provide any evidence for her claim.

The mum-of-one, who is also three months pregnant, said she had been treated with a lack of respect and felt “officers were laughing at her”.

The 24-year-old of Cornwall Drive, Hindley, said: “I have suffered from epilepsy for 20 years and had an attack on the day I was due to go for an ESA assessment.

“They make me very ill and I have to go to bed for most of the day to recover. They have happened more often recently because I’m pregnant.

“We informed DWP and were told we would need to provide a doctor’s note to explain why I missed it and that’s what we’ve done.”

And it was during a phone conversation about where to send the medical records that the comment about the recording of the seizure was made, the Rigby family claims.

Although they were not sure who the official was acting on behalf of because, they say, he had been “evasive” about his identity.

A spokesman for DWP said: “Ms Rigby failed to attend an assessment in March and provided no medical evidence to support the claim she was too ill to attend.

“She asked us to reconsider the decision to stop her ESA but did not provide any additional evidence.

“These decisions carry a further right of appeal and if any medical evidence can be produced it will be considered.”

A spokesman for Atos said it was not part of their employees remit to make enquiries about missed assessments.

Ms Rigby told the Evening Post she has now sent notes from her doctor via fax and expects her case to be reviewed.

She said: “I not had my payments now for more than a month and they’re saying I can’t prove it, I feel like they’re laughing at me.”