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Kilburn couple forced to turn to food banks after DWP stop their disability benefit

PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 July 2013 | UPDATED: 17:06 02 July 2013

John O'Sullivan and Niina Makartsenko

John O'Sullivan and Niina Makartsenko

Jonathan Goldberg

Niina Makartsenko and John O’Sullivan are struggling to make ends meet

A disabled woman claims she has been forced to survive on donations from a food bank after her benefits were abruptly stopped 10 months ago.

Niina Makartsenko, 59, of Mowbray Road, Kilburn, and her 68-year-old partner John O’Sullivan claim despite appealing against the Department of Work and Pension’s decision their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

According to Mr O’Sullivan their woes began when Ms Makartsenko, who suffers from memory loss, panic attacks, liver disease, high blood pressure, severe arthritis and obesity, forgot to attend a ‘government health check’ at Willesden’s job centre in September last year.

He said: “She has not received a penny since.

“I have written, I have filled in 50-page forms seven times and I have appealed against the decision.

“I have been to the Citizens Advice Bureau. I’ve done everything I possibly can.

“I’m at my wits end.”

Ms Makartsenko worked as a cleaner in Jewish care homes but was force to give up her job due to ill health 18 months ago.

Despite the couple providing the DWP with six sick notes from her doctor and hospital paperwork as evidence of her health problems and inability to work they have refused to reinstate her Employment and Support Allowance.

The couple still receive Housing Benefit to cover their rent and are struggling to make ends meet by living on Mr O’Sullivan’s pension credit payments of £147 a week.

The DWP spokesman said they could not comment on individual cases.

He added: “A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough assessment and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence provided by the claimant.”

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