The family of a grandfather who died after a "cruel and prolonged" battle was held – seven months after his death.

Jeff Hayward died of a heart attack last June after spending the last 18 months of his life fighting the government's decision of his ability to work.

Although he has worked all his life and provided a letter from his general practitioner, Mr. Hayward has been denied employment and support allowance (ESA).

Jeff Hayward, 53, died before his battle for benefits was finally won (Photo: Holly Hayward / SWNS)

His family said that the stress of his call and the financial difficulties that resulted from it had contributed to his untimely death at the age of 53.

The government's decision has now been overturned, but the family, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, says it's "too little, too late."

Mr. Hayward was forced to stop working as a Silentnight bed warehouseman in 2016 because of a bacterial skin condition called cellulitis.

Large ulcers prevented him from walking and forced him to go to the hospital three times a week.

He applied for benefits for the first time in his life, but ESA was denied after an assessment by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Jeff Hayward's family claims that the stress of the battle killed him (Photo: Holly Hayward / SWNS)

The DWP maintains that the "correct process" was followed, even after its decision was rescinded.

Holly, 29, the daughter of Mr. Hayward, said, "When he claimed that he had to undergo a medical examination, they found that he was suffering.

"When the DWP refused him benefits, even though his GP declared himself unfit for work, he did not feel anything.

"It was someone who really needed help and they would not give it to him.

"My father was a very outgoing father, a loving grandfather for my daughter.

Jeff Hayward, 53, with his daughter Holly, 29 (photo: Holly Hayward / SWNS)

"He worked all his life and never claimed any benefits.

"When he got sick and had to stop working, it changed him, he became depressed and worried about having to pay the mortgage.

"The experience was horrible.

"Dad has died of heart complications, but I think they have been made worse by the stress of the benefit system."

The family appealed the initial decision of the DWP, but their application was again rejected.

After the death of Mr. Hayward, his family began working with Citizens Advice, who claimed that he should not have been subjected to the procedure.

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Last month, a court hearing panel ruled that the DWP's decision should be overturned.

Based on the same medical evidence provided over two years ago, the panel concluded that Mr. Hayward was entitled to the highest benefit rate.

Citizens Advice calculated that the salary arrears due to Mr. Hayward amounted to £ 8,887.

Katy Marshall, head of Citizens Advice, added, "We are often concerned about the quality of the DWP's medical assessments, which weigh so heavily.

"The benefits system can have a terrible impact on people who are entitled to help.

"People deserve a just system that allows them a certain dignity."

A spokesman for DWP said, "Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.

"However, the correct process was followed for Mr. Hayward's employment support allowance application.

"Decisions are made after taking into account all the information provided by the applicant, including the supporting documents provided by his general practitioner or his medical specialist.

"Often, when decisions are canceled, people provide additional evidence to support their claim."