A HEREFORDSHIRE woman who was told she would lose all her disability benefits has not only won her appeal to get them reinstated she is getting a sizeable increase.

Despite a litany of serious health issues, including facial reconstruction, Helen Boughen had been told that she was no longer entitled to the benefits and they were stopped last September.

But after an appeal and the intervention of the Hereford Times and local MP Jesse Norman, the Department of Work and Pensions is now awarding her more money than she was previously getting.

She will also get a lump sum back payment of £1,400.

Her mum, Pauline Boughen, of Pontshill, near Ross-on-Wye, said she and Helen were thrilled and relieved, but the experience of months of stress had been awful and she questioned how the assessment system could be so completely flawed.

“It makes my blood boil to think there could be other people out there going through this and they don’t know what to do," she said. "This assessment process needs to be changed.”

Helen, 33, of Ross-on-Wye, had been told last May that her level of disability would be assessed because the Government is moving from paying people Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Helen received £58.70 in DLA and £173 in Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), made up of £73 basic JSA and the rest a special disability top up: a total of £232 a week.

But that was cut to just £73 after the assessment concluded she was not entitled to any disability payments. She was rated as having zero claim on the points system.

Helen’s health issues include 16 operations in 16 years, radical facial surgery leaving her with a false eye, no feeling on one side of her face, and scar tissue which makes it hard for her to open her mouth properly to communicate, eat and breathe.

Taking bone and muscle from different parts of her body has left her with weaknesses in her hips, legs, and one arm.

She has lesions on her brain and spine caused by her underlying condition, neurofibromatosis, which causes tumours to grow along the nerves.

Radical radiotherapy has weakened her bones. She also has Asperger’s syndrome.

Days ago Helen and mother Pauline thought they had won a partial victory after receiving a letter telling them that some of the money was being reinstated.

But now the DWP have cleared up any confusion by confirming that, after an appeal known as a ‘mandatory reconsideration, all money is being reinstated and she is entitled to enhanced payments as well.

Her payments will rise to £89.15 for PIP and £190 for JSA, making a total of £279: a rise of £47 a week.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that people get the support they are entitled to.

“After revisiting the case the decision has been made to award Ms Boughen the enhanced daily living component of PIP, an increase of over £30 per week from her DLA entitlement.

“Decisions are made based on all the evidence we receive at the time. If someone disagrees with a decision, they can appeal and provide further evidence through a mandatory reconsideration.”

The DWP says most people get PIP after being reassessed from DLA, with more than half having their award maintained or increased and 29 per receiving the highest level of support, compared with 16 per under DLA.

Mr Norman’s office has been contacted for a comment.

Pauline said: “I hope the publicity will give other people the confidence to appeal and show where they can go for help. It’s really hard. If Helen had been on her own she would not have done anything about this because she would not have known where to start.”