Widow wins pensions victory

A WIDOW who was refused a pension credit application for almost a year because she lives with a male friend has finally won her battle against the authorities.

A WIDOW who was refused a pension credit application for almost a year because she lives with a male friend has finally won her battle against the authorities.

Mary Legarde shares a bungalow with Jim Dennison in Frinton, but they sleep in separate bedrooms and have different bathrooms.

Despite divided bills at the property, the 79-year-old was investigated when she applied for benefits last year because the Government wanted to look into her living circumstances at Cranford Close.

Now after being questioned about things such as who does the gardening at a tribunal in Colchester, she has finally won the right to be judged as a single person who may be eligible for the credit.


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Celebrating her victory yesterday, Mrs Legarde said the case had never been about the money.

"It is good news that I can be assessed as a single person. Anybody less persistent would have given up banging their head against the pension credit brick wall," she said.

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"It was not about the money, it was just about the right to be regarded as a single person which, as a widow, I should have been.

"It has been the delays which have been frustrating and it has been embarrassing for my friend and of course there has been no apology throughout this. You do not get a 'sorry' from a Government department."

Mrs Legarde said anybody having similar difficulties should not give up their fight.

"If you know your facts and they are true and right, then keep at it," she added.

She said she was not aware if she would even be successful with the application and whether it would be backdated.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "If an individual applies as a single person but is sharing a household with somebody then a judgement is made on whether they are living together as husband and wife.

"A number of factors are taken into account, such as whether their resources are pooled. No unmarried person is assessed as living together as husband and wife merely because they share accommodation.

"Of course, as with all decisions which are made on benefit entitlement, the individual will have the right to appeal through an independent tribunal."

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