Benefit money wrongly denied to Stephen Smith by DWP will be used for his funeral

Emaciated and struggling to breathe Stephen Smith was deemed fit to work Credit: ITV Granada

The money six-stone Stephen Smith was wrongly denied in benefits will now be used to pay for his funeral.

The 64 year old died just a few months after winning a long battle with the Department of Work and Pensions after staff deemed he was 'fit to work', despite being seriously ill and refused him benefits.

After being wrongly turned down and told he needed to look for work, he was forced to sign on every week, even though he could barely walk.

While in hospital being treated for pneumonia, an emaciated, six-stone Mr Smith had to discharge himself from hospital in January to attend a tribunal to overturn the DWP's decision.

After his case made headlines, the DWP apologised and agreed to issue back payments of more £4,000 to Mr Smith, the benefits he should have received.

In February ITV Granada Reports raised his case with Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd, who ordered an investigation into what went wrong in Mr Smith's case, describing it as 'very upsetting'.

The results of that investigation haven't been made public, it's not clear if any changes have been made as a result of his case.

In cruel twist of fate, that money he was wrongly denied will now be used to pay for his funeral, which will be held at Anfield Crematorium on Friday 3 May.

Stephen Smith said the staff at CASA were a lifeline in his long fight for benefits, which he was legally entitled to Credit: Liverpool Echo

Stephen Smith was supported in his fight for benefits by volunteers at the CASA Community Centre in Liverpool.

Terry Craven said he was certain the ordeal he went through in trying to get the benefits he needed will not have helped his deteriorating health.

"I've got no doubt that his treatment was a contributory factor to his health getting worse - if only people had heeded warnings from his doctor, who said that if he was found to be fit to find work, it would lead to a serious deterioration in his health."

"That money the DWP eventually paid back to him, he never got a chance to spend it."

He added: "We are struggling, we don't have any funding and we have come close to shutting down - but there are too many people asking for help, and more people like Stephen, dying fighting the benefit system."

The CASA has launched a fundraising page to continue to support vulnerable claimants. You can find out more here

In a statement, the Department of Work and Pensions said ''its thoughts were with Stephen Smith's family and friends."

“We’re committed to ensuring that people with health conditions get the support they’re entitled to."