Housebound woman too ill to speak told she is fit to work by DWP

A woman who is so sick she struggles to speak has been deemed fit for work by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Debra Barrass, 47, has advanced emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), meaning she suffers from shortness of breath.

The condition is so advanced she is unable to leave the house, can barely talk, and basic tasks leave her breathless.

But despite the debilitating condition Debra, of Wallsend, was deemed fit to work by the Department for Work and Pensions and had her benefits stopped, she told Chronicle Live .

After her diagnosis in 2010, Debra was receiving Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independent Payment (PIP) but was asked to attend a mandatory work capability assessment.

She said: "I struggle from day-to-day, doing absolutely anything.

"They have said I am fit for work. My COPD is in the advanced stage and the tests they give you – I am not hitting the targets.

"I'm absolutely exhausted. I struggle to get up the stairs.

"I struggle to get out of the house often because I struggle so much. I'm really housebound."

Debra, who relies on three inhalers each days, says she was receiving £220 per fortnight on ESA and £300 once a month on PIP.

However, this week the DWP asked Debra to attend a reassessment and her £300 a month has been restored until the hearing has taken place.

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