Stephen Dickson fears he will lose his job and independence as he faces having his specially-adapted car taken away after his £58-a-month mobility allowance was halted
A double amputee says he is set to lose his “lifeline” of a car because he can occasionally walk unaided for 20 metres with a prosthetic limb.
Stephen Dickson, 38, fears he will lose his job and independence as he faces having his having his specially-adapted car taken away.
His situation is set to change after he passed a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) test by walking 20 metres (65ft).
But he claims he can’t always walk that far because of excruciating pain caused by his prosthetic leg.
The stepdad-of-two received Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from the age of 11 but had to re-apply for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) last month after changes to the system.
The double congenital amputee, who was born without his right arm and leg, was told he no longer qualified for the mobility aspect of the payment – despite regularly being bed-bound because of pains so severe he could soon require surgery.
Stephen, from Monton, Greater Manchester, said: “I think the decision is really short sighted of the DWP.
“Yes I can walk 20 metres with my prosthetic leg, which meets their requirements, but I can’t walk that far regularly – it causes a lot of strain on my body.
“My prosthetic leg is there to help me walk but they make me develop sores on my groin and the bottom of my legs and I can get ingrown hair follicles which are really painful.
“A few days a year I am left bed bound because my limbs hurt that much and I need to rest up so that I don’t do too much damage to my body.”
Although the changes will see Stephen’s standard living payments remain the same – which he said he is ‘more than grateful’ for – his biggest concern is the removal of the mobility allowance.
The £58 monthly benefit was paid directly from the DWP to the Motability Scheme where he hired a Skoda Superb with a left accelerator adaption.
Customer service adviser Stephen said: “I presumed because I always had it I would receive similar payments under PIP, so when I was told I wouldn’t be receiving the same payments I was shocked.”
Stephen is planning to lodge an appeal but when he hands over his car keys on Tuesday, he will have no form of private transport to get to and from work.
Stephen said: “I don’t mind using public transport but the bus stop is quite a walk from my house and if there are no empty seats it will cause a strain on my limbs if I have to stand.
“When I have my prosthetic leg attached and my trousers on it becomes an invisible disability, so no one would even know I was disabled and needed to sit down.
“It would be fine doing it for a few days but after a few weeks the sores around my groin and knees would inevitably get worse resulting in me having to call in sick at work.”
Stephen said his wife Gaynor, 55, who doesn’t drive, is worried that by losing his car it will make simple everyday tasks such as the food shop even more difficult.
Stephen said: “I’ve not lived off the state and claimed any other benefits and this is because I was receiving my mobility payments which helped me to get a car and to drive to work every day.
“I feel sorry for the DWP really they’ve been forced into this by a decision made by the government. It’s very sad that the change has made such a huge difference.
“I think most people just expected the introduction of PIP to be a name change, not a change of what money we will receive.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.
“Most people leaving the Motability scheme are eligible for a one-off payment of up to £2,000 to help meet their needs.”
What is a PIP assessment?
Personal Independence Payment assessments are carried out by qualified health professionals who combine their clinical knowledge with an understanding of the fact that not everyone with the same disability is impacted in the same way.
The PIP assessment criteria was designed in consultation with healthcare professionals and disability organisations.
Under PIP 26 per cent of claimants are now receiving the highest rate of support, compared to 15 per cent under Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Disabled people moving from DLA to PIP who are no longer entitled to a Motability car, scooter or powered wheelchair will now be able to retain the vehicle for up to eight weeks after their DLA payments end – more than double the current allowance.
There will also be a further option for people to retain their car for up to six months, for example if they are awaiting the results of an appeal.