William McCallum had been signed off by his doctor but the DWP declared him fit for work
A man who has spent months in chronic pain has slammed the benefits system that declared him fit for work despite needing a double hip replacement.
William McCallum, who lives in the Crewkerne area, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both hips and was signed off by his doctor as he was unable to work because of the pain.
Mr McCallum was receiving Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) after he was signed off and had been receiving money from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
As time went on he was called in for a back to work assessment. He was subsequently declared fit for work because he was able to lift his hands above his head despite awaiting a double hip replacement.
Mr McCallum had been in employment for the last 44 years paying his national insurance and taxes and most recently working as an assistant sheriffs officer and enforcement agent working with the High Court and Magistrates Courts.
He was told he would have to claim Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) as he was now deemed fit for work.
He said the whole experience of trying to claim money from the DWP and the difficulty he has found every step of the way has added to his illness.
“Mr McCallum said: “The process of claiming for some assistance after working 44 years has been an experience and a real eye opener as the system is one of making things hard for the claimant and also ensuring that it is an uphill task to get help after contributing for most of one’s life.” How like I Daniel Blake is this statement?
“The DWP has made my illness a lot worse due to the attitude and it comes across as their main objective is to withhold money at any cost.
“The stress that has been caused by all of this has not at all helped as the pain is enhanced. I do not believe for one minute this is all directed at myself but I feel there are a great deal of other people who have indeed worked most of their life and for some reasons have become ill only to go though this degrading system that is in place.”
Mr McCallum did start looking for work and made a number of applications for roles but had no success, not helped by his current illness.
The DWP has since threatened to take away any payments to him if he does not travel to Yeovil to the nearest Job Centre and sign on even though he has a further sick note.
He also said he received no help or advice from the Job Centre in the type of jobs it thinks he would be suitable of carrying out.
His doctor has since signed another sick note saying he is unable to work because of his existing condition and due to stress, which Mr McCallum says is due to the DWP.
He has slammed the systems in place that he believes look to make it as hard as possible to claim any money from the government.
Mr McCallum said: “What I have had to go through has been very stressful and made me feel in a worse condition but due to the fact I am a Christian and have a good social base of friends and access to support I am just about coping with the stress that the DWP have brought upon me.
“I am very concerned for those people with illnesses that have to claim this benefit if they have to go through what I have they may not be as fortunate to be able to manage and end up with stress, worries and suicidal thoughts as well as mental health issues all then being a burden on the NHS.
“Being out of work due to being unwell will have a great effect on a person if they have been working for most of their life but find themselves not working due to being ill.”