Former trawlerman Robert Donaldson, who now needs help with basic daily tasks, is losing sleep worrying about paying his bills.
An amputee pensioner with kidney failure, heart problems and hearing loss has had his benefits cut because he’s not sick enough.
Robert Donaldson has been told his £300 a week payment is being slashed to £58.
He is now frantic with worry about how he will buy food and pay his bills.
Robert, 66, said: “I don’t sleep now. I’m up worrying until about 5am every morning.”
The pensioner used to receive £300 a week Disability LivingAllowance.
But that benefit is being replaced by the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and claimants have to undergo an assessment.
When deciding whether to grant benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions score people on how their disabilities affect their daily living needs and mobility.
To qualify for the basic living needs payment, wheelchair-bound Robert had to score eight to 10 points. He fell short by two points.
The father-of-three was awarded an enhanced mobility payment but will receive just £58 a week.
Robert, of Edinburgh, said: “I got a letter from the DWP saying I had to go in for an assessment and they gave me an appointment.
“They asked me a lot of things during the assessment. I didn’t like it at all.”
Robert said he needs help with daily living.
He added: “My son has to help me get my trousers on and off and get in the shower. I’ve fallen in the bathroom a couple of times.
“It’s really embarrassing getting my family to help me. I used to be really independent before all this ill-health.
“I don’t speak to people any more. I’m always trapped in the house.
“The deafness has come on recently and I can’t hear what anyone is saying.
“I can’t cook for myself because I’m in my chair and it’s just too awkward.”
Robert, who used to work on a trawler, lost his lower left leg after suffering blood clots which were surgically removed.
He contracted numerous infections that resulted in him getting gangrene. Doctors were forced to put him in an induced coma before amputating his leg.
Complications from his condition meant he started having seizures.
Robert also developed serious problems with his intestines and had a colostomy bag fitted.
Since his leg was amputated, he has been in hospital twice with pneumonia.
Robert said his health keeps deteriorating.
He added: “My other foot is getting really quite bad. There’s an ulcer on it which keeps coming back and the skin is all coming off.
“The doctors have said they’ve got to keep an eye on it because they might have to take this one off as well.”
A letter from the DWP states that Robert did not meet the criteria for the daily living needs allowance as his assessor ruled he could dress himself, didn’t need enough help preparing food and could make financial decisions on his own.
Robert plans to appeal against the decision. He’s terrified of what will happen if he loses.
He added: “I’m worrying about buying food and paying my bills. Doing things like this to people in my situation is just wrong.”
PIP started being phased in in 2013 and anyone aged 16-64 who claimed DLA has or will be re-assessed by the DWP.
A spokesman for Disability Rights UK said: “The people who do these assessments are often not doctors.
“They’re nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists – they’re not specialists.
“The test is a checklist but if the assessor has no understanding or experience of someone’s
condition, the assessment leads to a decision to mark someone down and not award them the full amount or reject them altogether.
“We would urge people to appeal because around two thirds of appeals are successful.”
The UK Government are responsible for PIP and DLA but the Scottish Parliament are to take over the benefits.
Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said: “We have repeatedly called on the UK Government to halt the roll-out of PIP in Scotland.
“We are concerned many people have had to undergo stressful assessments and lost entitlement, with devastating consequences.”
A DWP spokesman said: “Decisions for PIP are made after considering all the information provided by the claimant and their GP or medical specialist.”