‘Sorry Mr Potts - you are dead’

Eddie Potts with the letter telling him he was dead . Picture by FRANK REID
Eddie Potts with the letter telling him he was dead . Picture by FRANK REID

A GRANDDAD was left stunned when he rang up to ask why his benefits had been stopped – only to be told he had been declared dead.

Hartlepool man Eddie Potts knew something wasn’t right when he checked his bank account and had not received his Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

He contacted the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and was told: “You’ve been registered dead.”

As an investigation was carried out into what had happened, Eddie was left shocked again when he had a similar response to his query over why his pension payments hadn’t gone into his bank.

“The person on the other end of the line checked it out and said ‘I’m sorry but we’ve been told by your son that you’re dead’.
“I don’t have a son!

“I’ve nearly had a heart attack over this, it could send me into an early grave.”

To compound matters, just last week a letter from HM Revenues and Customs, addressed to ‘the personal representative of Mr E Potts’ at his home address informed ‘his representative’ they could claim or repay tax on any of his estate and stating ‘I’m sorry to hear of your bereavement and recognise that this will be a difficult time’.

The document even had the date of Eddie’s “death” as November 7, 2012.

The 66-year-old, from Portmadoc Walk, in the Throston Grange area of Hartlepool, has hit out at the DWP saying the department should have carried out more thorough checks before believing he had died and stopping his money.

The retired PSV driver said he asked the DWP how this could happen if they did not have a death certificate, and was told it can take up two three weeks to receive the document.

“They should never have stopped my money in the meantime, they should have had more proof,” said Edward, who is dad to Suzanne Potts, 32, and Joanne Maidment, 37.

Eddie’s payments have now re-started and the DWP has apologised and vowed to investigate how this happened.

Eddie, who recieves DLA as he is unable to work after being involved in a road smash six years ago, first noticed his £17.20 DLA payment had not been paid to him four weeks ago.

He rang the DWP and asked what was going on, and that was when he was told he had been registered dead.

Eddie, who lost his wife Barbara, 61, in November 2008, then drew some money out a week later for his groceries and knew his balance wasn’t what it should be.

He left it a week and saw he had just 43p in his account.

Edward, who is grandfather to Ella Hallcup, four, and Edward Hallcup, three, said: “I rang them up and all I got out of them was that they can only go off what the DWP say.

“I’m supposed to have died on November 7.

“I’m just wondering if someone has done this, what sort of sick mind they must have.”

A DWP spokeswoman said: “We acted urgently to reinstate Mr Potts benefits as soon as the issue came to light.

“We apologise unreservedly and are investigating fully.”