Soldier widow’s benefits trauma

THE partner of a fallen soldier was denied benefit payments, because of compensation paid directly in to their baby son’s account.

Tiffany Lound’s son was born just weeks after the death of his soldier father, James Leverett, in Afghanistan in 2010.

She was on income support, and received fortnightly payments of £135. An Award from the Armed Forces went to baby James only.

But from December 16 to late last month her benefit payments stopped, leaving Tiffany, 19, of Jackson Crescent, Rawmarsh, without any cash.

It was only when her mum wrote a bitter letter to David Cameron on her daughter’s behalf, that the matter was resolved.

The benefits office wrote to apologise for the “gross inconvenience”, and referred to a ‘maladministration’ in ‘very exceptional circumstances’.

A ‘special payment’ of £50 was forwarded to Tiffany by way of recompense.

“The award money goes straight in to James’ account, for when he is 18. It’s not for Tiffany to live off her son’s money and she would never want to do that, said Julie, Tiffany’s mum.

“But she was forced to live off me and her dad all over Christmas”.

Julie’s complaint to Number 10 was answered within a week, she said, after which the benefits were reinstated.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We would like to apologise to Miss Lound for any distress caused at this difficult time. Miss Lound’s income support was initially stopped as she was in receipt of an Armed Forces Award, the amount of which meant she was ineligible for benefits.

“However, it was confirmed that, in her particular circumstance, her child was the beneficiary of the award, and so it could be disregarded in calculating her entitlement to benefits. Her full entitlement to benefits was reinstated and any outstanding benefits were backdated. She was also granted a special one-off payment to reflect any unnecessary distress caused”.