‘I was screaming for help but people looked away’

 

Photo shows Carrie-Ann, William and Ann, who spoke to the BBC about their experiences
The BBC spoke to Carrie-Ann Lightley, William Peace and Ann Webster about strangers trying to push their wheelchairs.

A tweet by a woman detailing how a stranger took control of her wheelchair has prompted other people to share similar stories and support.

In the tweet Bronwyn Berg recounts how passers-by didn’t intervene despite her “screaming for help”.

Twitter post by @BergBronwyn: If you see a person in a wheelchair (especially a woman) being pushed by someone and she’s screaming Stop! No! Help! For the love of humanity help her!A guy grabbed my wheelchair today and just started pushing me, not a single passerby helped even though I was screaming for helpMs Berg’s tweet has received a huge reaction online, garnering nearly 65,000 likes and 20,000 retweets, with many people expressing their outrage and offering words of support, including Baroness Tanni 
Twitter post by @Tanni_GT: That is awful. And scary.Ms Berg wrote on Twitter that she was “most upset that no one helped,” adding “the way people looked away when I was calling for help makes me feel a lot less safe in the world”.

Many wheelchair users identified with the “horrifying” tweet, and were moved to share their experiences.

Photo shows Carrie-Ann Lightley in a gardenTravel blogger Carrie-Ann Lightley says she has experienced similar behaviour

Carrie-Ann Lightley runs a blog about accessible tourism and is used to travelling alone. She wasn’t surprised when she read the tweet.

“I thought it was awful, but I’ve had similar experiences,” she told the BBC.

Carrie-Ann says it is “dangerous” and “scary” when complete strangers come up behind her and touch her wheelchair without permission.

Twitter post by @CarrieALightley: Happens to me a lot at Euston Station. Pushing myself up the long ramp from the platforms when assistance is delayed. I may *look* like I'm struggling but that's just how I push! People just grab my handles without asking/speaking to me.“It makes me feel like society doesn’t see me as an independent person, a young woman travelling, working and in a rush to get to places just like everyone else – they see me as someone who must be struggling.”

Some responded to Ms Berg’s tweet to suggest that, while their actions may be misguided, people might just be trying to help.

Carrie-Ann said that while “kindness makes the world a better place”, she suggested people “always ask me before touching me or my wheelchair.”

Twitter post by @ruth_murran: It happens to me often. When I bought my chair I was advised to pay extra for flip down handles because it's so common. They help, but don't deter everybody.

‘Powerless’

Ann Webster was on her way home from work one evening when a man approached her and said “here hold these”.

“He thrust some rolled up newspapers on my knee and started to push me.

“I kept saying no. I felt powerless.”

Ann remembers that while the stranger did eventually stop, he made it clear he thought Ann was “being horrible” for challenging his actions.

“It’s always been men who have attempted to push me,” Ann said, “and yes I do feel vulnerable.”

Ann has recently developed a technique to “get back in control”.

“By spinning my chair around to face the offender, it shocks them into letting go,” she said.

Twitter post by @wjpeace9: That has happened to me too. It is very dangerous. No idea what people are thinking when they do this. It is wildly wrong.

William Peace told the BBC that when he challenges people who try to push his wheelchair without permission he is often told to “shut up and accept help” and accused of being “bitter”.

When he read Ms Berg’s tweet, William said it made him think that “when people see a wheelchair that is exactly what they see – a wheelchair – not a human being”.

When asked why he thought passers-by didn’t step in to assist Ms Berg he suggested that harassment against those with disabilities is not taken seriously.

“I have been discriminated against my entire adult life and cannot think of any occasion when a typical bodied stranger offered to help,” he said.

“People with a disability are seen as ‘less than’, and often infantilised and assumed to be physically and mentally deficient.”

One Twitter user described how “terrifying” it is to be accosted from behind:

Twitter post by @clothosspindle: I’m sorry. I’ve had this happen to me also. It is terrifying to feel someone grab you from behind and not be able to see behind you.My wheelchair is an extension of my body. NO RANDOM GRABBING!Presentational white space

Ms Berg confirmed that, despite feeling “shaken up” by the experience, she was “okay”.

source

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Changes to disability benefits cost £4bn in extra welfare payments

Be it PIP, Universal Credit, ESA it has cost more to implement than the status quo, but then we all know the welfare “reforms” were never about saving money:
The central objective has not been, as is generally claimed, to save money but rather to ensure a level of desperation that drives people into low wage precarious work and depresses the level of real wages. source

Changes to disability benefits cost £4bn in extra welfare payments, OBR’s figures will bolster disability groups’ calls for overhaul of PIP system

Person in wheelchair
 The OBR said the growing number of appeals from disabled people was one of several causes of the unexpected rise in costs.

Changes to the disability benefits system that has caused huge hardship to some of the country’s most vulnerable people has cost the government more than £4bn more in extra welfare payments than ministers estimated.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the Treasury’s independent forecasting unit, said predictions by the Department for Work and Pensions dramatically under-estimated the costs of rolling out the personal independent payments (PIP) system, which began to replace disability living allowance (DLA) in 2013.

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A saving of £2bn was expected by 2018, but that has since been revised to an over-spend by £1.5bn to £2bn, leaving an estimated £4.2bn gap in the public finances. The figures are expected to bolster calls by disability groups for an overhaul of the PIP system, which has been described as a “vicious attack” on disabled people. MPs on the work and pensions select committee concluded an investigation last year that found the assessments of claimants by private sector contractors to be “shoddy and error strewn”, leading to hundreds of thousands of successful appeals.

One charity, Parkinson’s UK, complained that about a quarter of people living with the disease in Britain had lost some or all of their support after benefit reassessments, only to have the payments reinstated on appeal.

The OBR said the growing number of appeals was one of several causes of the unexpected rise in costs. It said the system had also come under pressure from legal challenges, which had altered the scope of the scheme, and an increase in claimants, especially of working age adults when this group was due to see a large fall.

The OBR said: “The government assumed initially that PIP would be rolled out by 2015-16 and that it would cost 20% less than DLA would have done. In fact, by 2017-18 it was costing around 15 to 20% more, with rollout only around two-thirds complete.”

pipx

Ministers claimed, when the system was launched, that a programme of rolling medical assessments by three private sector contractors would ensure payments were only made for as long as a claimant needed them.

Critical of the system run by public sector staff, the DWP expected that independent medical reassessments would lead to a dramatic fall in the number of people staying on benefits.

A report in 2016 by the OBR described the PIP system as “a failure” after it reduced the forecasts of cost savings to 5%. In its latest report it said the inability to achieve savings, which were now nearer -20%, had pushed its forecasting of the welfare budget significantly off track.

 

Frank Field, who chairs the Commons work and pensions committee, said: “DWP told us PIP would save taxpayers money and introduce a fair, transparent assessment process. Today’s report lays bare that it has achieved neither. PIP will cost a fifth more than the system it replaces: a sorry situation largely thanks to DWP’s failure to cost the reform accurately before bringing it in.

“Far worse, though, is that the PIP assessments are riddled with repeated and serious errors and have caused untold anxiety and misery for far too many of the people who rely on the benefit to live. The cost of those mistakes is also knocked forward into the tribunal system, not back to the contractors who made them.”

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More than 21,000 sick and disabled people died waiting for vital benefits

Campaigners warn the ‘appalling situation’ is set to get even worse under Universal Credit.  By Sue Jones
Photo credit: Knox O (Wasi Daniju) via photopin cc

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted that over 21,000 ill and disabled people died waiting for their Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment to be completed, between April 2013 and 30 April 2018.

PIP is claimed by people with a range of health conditions and disabilities, many of which are chronic, degenerative or life limiting.

Sarah Newton MP, the Minister of State for Disabled People, published the figures on 11 January following a question raised in parliament by Labour MP Madeleine Moon in December. She asked: “How many people have died while waiting for their personal independence payment assessment to be completed; and what were the conditions those people died from?”

More than 17,000 sick and disabled people have died while waiting for welfare benefits, figures show

Responding to the question, Newton said: “All benefit claims can be made under the special rules for people who are terminally ill which will mean that they are fast tracked. “These are currently being cleared within 6 working days for new claimants to PIP. “The Department would encourage all claimants with a terminal illness to let the department know and to apply using the special rules.”

The private firm Capita were given responsibility to carry out disability assessments for Personal Independence Payments (PIP), have been criticised by MPs over the accuracy of reports sent to the DWP. source

“The cause of death of PIP claimants is not collated centrally by the Department”, she added. Over 3.6 million applications to PIP were made between April 2013 and 30th April 2018. Of these:

  • 4,760 claimants died between their case being referred to, and returned from, an assessment provider;
  • 73,800 claimants died within 6 months of their claim being registered; and
  • 17,070 claimants died after registering but prior to the DWP making a decision on their claim.

Overall, the total number of PIP claimants who died was 95,000. But Newton’s response does not indicate at what stage of their claim the 73,800 people, who died within six months of it being registered, were at.

Nor does it indicate what those people who did not have terminal or degenerative illnesses died of – including those with mental illness. For example, 270 of those mortalities are listed as having had anxiety and/or depressive disorders as their primary disorder.

The DWP has admitted 21,000 people died waiting for benefits

pipx

Of those who did have terminal illnesses, we need to ask why these people were so cruelly left waiting so long for their assessment, if, as Newton claims, they are ‘fast tracked’ through the claim and assessment process.  She also said: “This is unpublished data… It should be used with caution and it may be subject to future revision.”

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “It is shocking that so many disabled people have died waiting for their social security claims to be processed at a time when they need and should be able to get support.

“Sadly this appalling situation is set to get even worse with the waiting times for first payments of universal credit.”

The DWP has been contacted for comment.

source

The decimation of the welfare state

It’s sickening that the British welfare state is being gradually demolished by successive governments, to be eventually replaced with private healthcare insurance [1] and what’s even more galling is: they [some members of the UK govt] went to the USA to find out how to decimate our welfare state and NHS, encouraged by American corporate funders. Mo Stewart has written extensively about this in her book Cash not Care.

Amber Rudd has the absolute nerve to say Universal Credit has not always been compassionate whilst her dept have overseen the demolition of the welfare state causing misery not seen seen Victorian times [2] and I have added hundreds of  DWP atrocities like the one of Alan Chrisman [below] which have contributed to many suicides [3] 

Since 2010


Denied: How some Tennessee doctors earn big money denying disability claims

Alan Chrisman holds medical bills and records near the McDonald’s where he worked at as a maintenance employee before being diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer

By the time Alan Chrisman was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer, he was too sick to work. The cancer had spread to his lungs. His doctors said he may never get better. He applied for disability, the federal safety net program he contributed to with every paycheck during his 30 years working as a stonemason.

But a doctor hired by Tennessee’s Disability Determination Services to review applications quickly concluded Chrisman wasn’t sick enough to get the $804 monthly benefit.

That physician, Dr. Thomas Thrush, is one of about 50 doctors contracted to review applications for Tennesseans seeking disability. The doctors are paid a flat rate for each application file they review. How much they earn depends on how fast they work.

Thrush, like many of the doctors who contract with the state, works very fast. In fiscal year 2018, he reviewed — on average — one case every 12 minutes.

Thrush’s productivity has paid off. He earned $420,000 for reviewing the applications of 9,088 Tennesseans applying for disability during the year ending June 30. He has made more than $2.2 million since 2013. On average, 80 percent of the cases he reviewed were denied.

6 takeaways from this investigation: Doctors speed through disability claims, make millions

Tennessee has among the highest denial rates for disability applicants in the nation, rejecting 72 percent of all claims in 2017. The national average for denials was 66 percent. Outside experts and former and current state employees say it’s impossible to review cases so quickly without making mistakes that lead to wrongful rejections of disability benefits.

In Chrisman’s case, Thrush failed to obtain one critical piece of evidence: a discharge paper from a hospital that stated Chrisman’s cancer was inoperable and had metastasized. The prognosis clearly qualified him for disability, even under the complex rules set by the Social Security Administration. The mistake was discovered only after Chrisman hired a lawyer.

A USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee investigation examined 5½ years of data for physicians and psychologists who review disability applications. The investigation found that between January 2013 and July 2018:

• Some doctors raced through cases. More than half of all contract physicians outpaced the federal standard of 1.5 cases per hour, and 1 out of every 5 doctors doubled that pace.

 A whistleblower was fired. The contract of a former medical consultant was terminated in 2017 after he raised concerns about some physicians reviewing a high volume of cases.

• Speed pays. Seven high-volume doctors billed for more than $1 million each between fiscal 2013 and 2018. These physicians’ annual payments range from $103,000 to $451,000. By contrast, the acting chief of the Social Security Administration, a Cabinet-level position, earned $240,000. For some physicians, this was not their sole source of income.

 Staff doctors take more time. The state employed a small number of staff doctors whose compensation is not tied to the number of cases they review. These doctors reviewed cases at a rate that is in line with federal recommendations. They typically earned less than $150,000 annually, according to the state’s salary database. Beginning this year, however, the state is terminating all doctors on salary and relying only on contract physicians.

 Some doctors have a history of misconduct. At least two doctors under contract with the state are felons, including Thrush. Two other physicians had their medical licenses placed on probation. Another physician had his license revoked twice in the past 20 years and now works on a restricted license that bars him from treating patients.

Five current and former contractors and state employees said they believe disability applicants are being wrongfully denied in an effort to process as many applications as possible. Most spoke to The Tennessean on the condition of anonymity, for fear of reprisal.

“It’s like a cash register,” said one contract physician. “From our perspective it’s unethical. From a consumer’s point of view it can be a tragedy.”

One doctor who raised the issue through official channels lost his contract. Dr. John Mather, the whistleblower, was the former chief medical officer for disability programs at the federal Social Security Administration, and worked as a contract doctor for the state after he retired.

“Who knows how many applicants for disability benefits have had their applications denied without justification,” he said.

A whistleblower

Mather said he warned James Stanfield, director for the state disability department, and Raquel Hatter, then commissioner of the Department of Human Services, in 2016 about the dangers of some doctors performing large numbers of reviews. The Human Services Department’s general counsel responded in a letter saying there was nothing illegal or fraudulent.

Mather emailed the Social Security Administration, which referred the matter to the Office of Inspector General. That office determined no investigation was warranted. Mather met with auditors at the Comptroller of the Treasury, then received no further response.

In 2017, Stanfield declined to renew Mather’s contract. “I don’t think they care about the claimant,” Mather said of administrators. “They just want to see the cases out. I don’t think they care too much about quality. People who are high producers — they are very happy to have them around.”

Current and former personnel said they were speaking up now because they want an outside investigator to review all cases to ensure individuals have not been wrongly denied.

“These findings are troubling,” Tennessee U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper said in a statement. “Physicians, especially those dealing with state and federal funds, should be careful and thorough in their work. Social Security Disability Insurance is a vital program, and we have to keep it strong.”

Alan Chrisman walks with his wife, Joyce, near the Sevierville, Tenn., McDonald’s where he worked as a maintenance employee before being diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer. Chrisman applied for disability but was initally denied by a medical contractor hired by the state to review claims.

A spokesman for the Department of Human Services, which oversees the disability program in Tennessee, disputed any connection between how fast doctors review case files and their mistakes. “We have no reason to believe that doctors that average faster reviews are more prone to have errors in their reviews,” Sky Arnold said in a statement.

The Social Security Administration provided its own statistics that showed Tennessee doctors were spending on average 47 “medical minutes per case.” Patti Patterson, a spokeswoman, noted that was more than the national average of 38 minutes.

But the federal data adds the time multiple physicians spend reviewing the same case, a common occurrence when someone is claiming both a mental and physical disability requiring two different specialists. The state data analyzed by The Tennessean details each doctor’s speed.

A letter brings crushing news

For weeks, Chrisman did not feel well. Some days he would lose control of his bowels. After stonemason work became scarce, he got a job as a maintenance man at a McDonald’s in Sevierville, Tennessee, two years ago. One day in November 2017, he showed up to work at the restaurant and promptly soiled himself.

At the insistence of his wife, Joyce, he headed straight to a walk-in clinic. It was his first medical visit in a long time. The Chrismans cannot afford insurance. He was referred to a doctor, then another. The diagnosis was swift.

Chrisman had late-stage cancer of the intestine. The cancer had spread. There were two spots on his lung. A golf ball-sized tumor and about a foot of his intestine were removed in surgery.

Alan Chrisman worked as a maintenance employee at this Sevierville, Tenn., McDonald’s before being diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in November 2017. He’s now on his 11th dose of chemotherapy. After his 12th next month, he will return for a scan.
Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel

Weakened by chemotherapy and radiation, emaciated after shedding 40 pounds, and in extreme discomfort with tubes protruding from his backside, Chrisman occasionally can’t sit or stand. On a good day he can walk outside to pick up a single log for the fireplace in the couple’s unheated two-bedroom cabin.

The Chrismans earned about $32,000 a year between his earnings and his wife’s $10 hourly wage cleaning laundry at a Smoky Mountain resort. The mounting medical bills and Chrisman’s lost wages devastated his wife, who tried to arrange payment plans with medical providers. Chrisman applied for disability in November 2017. The rejection letter came six months later.

“Although your therapy is currently causing you discomfort, it is expected these effects will be temporary,” said the denial letter, based on the recommendation from Thrush.

Joyce Chrisman cried when she read the letter.

Mistakes unlikely to be caught

The disability process has two layers of oversight designed to catch errors, but doctors know there is little likelihood anyone would catch a mistake in denying someone’s application.

First, a quality assurance department in Nashville spot-checks approvals and denials to make sure staff and doctors have followed procedures. Then, federal regional offices review a portion of disability applications.

Tennessee has consistently ranked high in the quality of its case reviews, averaging a 95.8 percent quality rating since 2016, said Arnold, the state spokesman. In 2017 DDS earned a Social Security Administration “Phoenix Award” for its performance.

But the state and federal offices review a tiny percentage of denied disability claims for accuracy.

By law, half of all approvals by state DDS personnel are reviewed by Social Security Administration staff — a provision meant to safeguard public funds.

The law, however, doesn’t set specific requirements for denials. As a result, the Social Security Administration reviewed fewer than 2 percent of all rejections, according to an analysis by the National Association of Social Security Claims Representatives.

“If the adjudicator is making poor decisions, if they tend towards denials, they’re just not going to be reviewed,” said Jen Burdick, an attorney with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. She is is among advocates nationwide asking for Social Security to review more denials.

Wrongful denials may be appealed, but long delays for a hearing can take a devastating  toll in lost wages, lack of access to health care and medical bills. In fiscal year 2017, at least 9,570 people died waiting for their disability appeals to be heard.

Speed pays — sometimes millions

The Social Security Administration oversees two disability programs: Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, for low-income individuals without a work history, and Social Security Disability Insurance for workers who become disabled.

The federal government delegates to the states the administration of the programs. Tennessee received $8.5 million last year from the Social Security Administration to hire medical consultants with a variety of specialties to review medical records.

These doctors never examine claimants in person, although they occasionally order a physical exam by another doctor.

Seven days a week, setting their own schedules, the doctors swipe their badges to access secured floors of a brown and glass office building on the outskirts of downtown Nashville, logging into a computer system that generates a queue of cases to review.

Some applications contain just a few pages. Others include hundreds of pages of doctor’s notes, hospital reports, X-rays, lab results and employment records. Doctors must write a brief report to justify their findings, too.

The decision to grant or deny benefits is officially made by a state employee, but doctors who work for the state say it is their recommendation that carries the most weight.

For this work, the doctors are paid a flat fee ranging from $30 to $47 per case. Doctors also bill $68 per hour in most instances for the time they spend consulting with staff or mentoring other physicians. Use the database below to search for physicians. Like Thrush, some of these doctors work very fast.

Dr. Kanika Chaudhuri, a pediatrician, evaluated 3,872 cases last fiscal year, averaging more than four cases per hour when she worked. She earned $192,000 in fiscal 2018 and $1.1 million since 2013.

Out of all the cases Chaudhuri reviewed over the five years, 78 percent were denied, according to data provided by the state. State officials later noted that the denial data included cases in which multiple doctors made assessments, meaning Chaudhuri and other doctors may not have made the final assessment.

Asked whether she felt pressured to review cases too quickly, Chaudhuri said: “No direct pressure. They recommend that we must keep up. They always recommend you do your best. There are so many applications and so few doctors. We are overwhelmed with cases.”

Jenaan Khaleeli, a psychologist, has averaged 4½ cases an hour since 2013. Nearly 80 percent of those cases were denied. Over the five years, Khaleeli earned $1.2 million, including $209,000 in fiscal 2018.

Dr. Frank Pennington, an ear, nose and throat specialist who is also a felon, earned $144,000 reviewing cases in fiscal 2018, and more than $1 million since 2013. During the five-year period he reviewed 20,835 cases, at a rate of three per hour.

Pennington is one of five contract physicians with a history of misconduct. Pennington is confined to the administrative practice of medicine after three separate felony cocaine convictions and two stints in federal prison in the 1990s.

Thrush had his license placed on probation for four years in 2008 after he  pleaded guilty to prescription fraud in 2006. Arnold, the DHS spokesman, said the physicians were all doctors in good standing while employed.

“It’s important to remember these are not forward-facing doctors,” Arnold said. “Their role is to examine medical records and reports. They do not meet with patients in person.” Thrush, Pennington and Khaleeli did not respond to messages.

‘A flawed system’

Tennessee’s pay-by-the-case model — and the sums paid to contract doctors — surprised even advocates and attorneys who routinely assist people with disabilities. “There is an obvious financial incentive under such a payment arrangement — to process cases as quickly as possible,” said Russ Overby, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee, who represents individuals seeking disability.

“I am concerned that some clients who are in fact eligible for disability benefits will be denied because there has not been a sufficient review of the case.” Carrie Hobbs Guiden, executive director of The Arc of Tennessee, advocates for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities who occasionally apply for Social Security disability benefits. Doctors have to invest the time to properly review cases, she said, especially when it involves people with untreated mental health issues.

“If they’re getting paid based on how many they get done, that’s a flawed system,” Guiden said. “That’s not encouraging quality. You have to question if the purpose is to deny as many people as possible.”

Under pressure to meet ‘workload goals’

State disability determination departments face enormous pressures to meet “workload goals” set by the Social Security Administration.

In 2018, the Social Security Administration set a goal of 103,161 disability applications to be cleared by Tennessee’s office.

The staff and consultants needed to clear those cases in Tennessee have shrunk by 24 percent between 2010 and 2016.

Failure to meet goals can result in a financial penalty from the federal government, according to Jeffrey Price, the past legislative director for the National Association of Disability Examiners.

Doctors elsewhere push back

About half of all state disability offices in the United States operate on a similar model to Tennessee’s, in which physicians reviewing applications are paid by the case, according to Price.

The contract model, in which doctors receive a fee for each assessment, introduces some risks, Price said.

“If you were paid by the case, it behooves you to sign off on as many cases as you can,” he said. “I think that model at least has the potential for increased error rates.

“A doctor can review cases effectively at about two cases per hour,” Price said. “You’re hoping that the doctor will actually look at the whole case, not just what the examiner wrote.”

Doctors like Thrush, who processed more than five cases per hour, might be valued in an office trying to shovel itself out of a large caseload, Price said, but the pace is implausible.

“I think that would be dangerous, actually,” Price said. “Inherently you would be missing something if you’re looking at five cases an hour.”

At the North Carolina Disability Determination Services office, where Price has worked for nearly 40 years, managers recently asked doctors to process an average of three cases per hour instead of two. Doctors in that office are all on staff, as opposed to contractors.

“Some of our doctors are pushing back,” Price said. “They say that’s too many.”

A rule put into place by the Social Security Administration in 2017 has made the work of DDS physicians even more critical in deciding an outcome of an application.

Previously a “treating physician rule” required DDS to give more weight to the opinions of an applicant’s personal doctor than doctors hired by DDS. That rule was eliminated, giving doctors hired by DDS more influence in deciding the outcome of applications.

‘Something needs to be done’

After Chrisman was denied, he and his wife found a lawyer in Sevierville to file a request for reconsideration.

In September, Joyce Chrisman came home from work and brought the mail inside their cabin. The letter from Social Security said, “We found that you became disabled under our rules on November 8, 2017.” That was the day after she urged Chrisman to visit the walk-in clinic.

Another physician had examined Alan Chrisman’s file and recommended he be granted disability.

“We said ‘wow,’ ” Chrisman said. “We couldn’t believe it.”

George Garrison, his lawyer, said he was troubled by The Tennessean’s findings.

“People come to me at a point they’re about to lose everything they’ve got,” he said. “They’re sick. They’re dying. They’re having to deal with a complex system.”

The benefit meant that Joyce Chrisman no longer had to worry about paying medical bills. The bills would be paid dating back to the time her husband applied for disability.

His disability approval also automatically qualified Alan Chrisman for TennCare, which is now covering his ongoing chemotherapy, medications and hospitalizations.

Chrisman sits on his couch most of the time. He’s on his 11th dose of chemotherapy. After his 12th next month, he will return for a scan. “Then we’ll go from there,” he said.

Thinking about the months he spent rejected — when he and his wife were barely scraping by — Chrisman gets angry.

“Something needs to be done,” he said. “They’re either getting too much of a caseload or they’re getting greedy.”

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Anger as disabled woman ordered out of Castle Bingo

Anger as mentally disabled woman ordered out of Castle Bingo in Nantgarw

Katie Clarke from Caerphilly was ordered to leave Castle Bingo in Nantgarw

A woman from Caerphilly with a mental disability was “made to look stupid” and ordered to leave Castle Bingo in Nantgarw.

Katie Clarke, 34, was at the bingo hall with her family on Boxing Day when she was evicted for not having a membership card.

However, Katie, who regularly visits the hall, was “screamed and shouted at” for 25 minutes by a member of staff, which left her “shaking like a leaf” and having a panic attack.

Katie Clarke and her family have been regular customers at Castle Bingo

Katie’s sister, Aurial Clarke, who was with her when the incident happened, told Caerphilly Observer: “We’ve been going there for well over two years and it’s the first time anything like this has happened. “They told us we could stay in and play bingo but Katie had to leave because she wasn’t playing and didn’t have a membership card.

“Katie has a curvature at the bottom of her spine and can’t walk very well unaided. There was no way we could have left her outside on her own – I’d trust my three-year-old son on his own more than I’d trust leaving Katie on her own.”

Aurial, 28, said that Castle Bingo offered her family a £30 discount as a gesture of goodwill after the incident, but said it did not make up for the ordeal. “We don’t want discounts, we just want them to know they can’t go treating people like this.”

Aurial added: “My sister enjoys coming here. It’s a day out for her and she loves the atmosphere. She feels a part of something at bingo and she’s had that taken away from her. We won’t be taking her back after what’s happened to her.

“When something like this happens it can take a long time for her to get over it. “She’s still struggling with the trauma. She was humiliated and was saying that she didn’t want to be disabled anymore.”

Katie has the mental age of a four-year-old and has been described by her family as “lovable, caring and always smiling”. However, since the Boxing Day humiliation, they have seen a change.

Aurial added: “She’s really down and doesn’t want to leave her house. She has been feeling sick and shaking. It’s not like her at all – her personality has completely gone.”

Castle Bingo have yet to reply to requests for comment from Caerphilly Observer.

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Heart attack victim denied Universal Credit despite doctor’s note

Jeremy Corfield, 49, from Quinton, had collapsed on car park with heart attack

A heart attack victim was denied Universal Credit until officials performed a U-turn after BirminghamLive took up his case. Jeremy Corfield, 49, from Quinton, had a doctor’s note saying he was unfit to work after collapsing on his rounds as a car park enforcement officer.

He spent three days in hospital after suffering the heart attack on December 13 and was subsequently diagnosed with lifelong angina. But Jeremy was told he would not be able to claim the payments – until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) changed its mind after BirminghamLive queried his case.

But he still believes the phased introduction of Universal Credit, which has been scaled back by the government, is a disaster. Jeremy said: “I think Universal Credit is a terrible idea, it’s wrecked people’s lives.

Disabled mum faces eviction after Universal Credit left her unable to pay rent

“Other people who might not be able or willing to fight mistakes like this will be going through severe hardship. “People are putting whatever they can towards rent but they are still getting evicted. It’s happened to a few people I know. “They can’t cover their bills.”

Jeremy had been told that he would not be able to resume monthly Universal Credit payments, which he previously claimed after a spell unemployed until they were reduced to zero against his earnings once he started working. As he is self-employed, he does not receive sick pay and while he lives in a Birmingham City Council flat, he pays rent and council tax.

Plymouth dad made homeless today faces life on the streets

The day he was released from City Hospital he went to an appointment at Selly Oak Jobcentre Plus, where he was told the payments would not be resumed until February as he was still being assessed against his earnings.

But he was later told he would be receiving an advance payment and housing support. Jeremy said: “They phoned me and said sorry to hear what happened. “I said, it shouldn’t have come to this’. “They are going to give me an advance, which I have to pay back. “I feel a bit better but it should never have happened in the first place.”

Jeremy’s advance payment will be £317 and he will also receive financial support for his housing. He hopes to go back to work at the end of the month. The Birmingham City fan also spoke about the heart attack, which led to him needing a stent to open the arteries in his heart in an emergency operation at City Hospital.

He now has a mouth spray to treat angina, which causes chest pain through reduced blood flow to the heart muscles. Reliving the heart attack, Jeremy said: “I was doing a car park and I started getting pain in my chest, the pain was getting worse and I couldn’t breath properly.

“I went into my van and looked in the mirror, I was sweating. I phoned Jenny, my partner, and told her I couldn’t breath properly. “She told me to put the phone down and phone the ambulance so I did. They took me to Dudley Road and I had the operation straight away.”

The next phase of the Universal Credit roll-out nationally has been scaled back amid an outcry over flaws in the system, in which Birmingham’s Labour MPs have been particularly vocal, putting together a dossier of evidence to back their case.

A DWP spokesman said: “Mr Corfield wasn’t eligible for Universal Credit initially because of wages he received from previous employment. “We have apologised for not making this clearer at the time and to support him with his claim.”

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Motability set to spend millions more on grants for adapted vehicles

Lord Sterling head and shoulders

The Motability car scheme is set to increase substantially the number of grants it makes to disabled people with high support needs that allow them to lease an adapted vehicle, MPs have been told.

The move would be a success for disabled campaigners who have long called for Motability to use more of its substantial resources to fund expensive, heavily-adapted vehicles for disabled people who would otherwise be unable to engage in their community.

Lord Sterling, the co-founder of the scheme and chair of the Motability charity, made the pledge to increase the number of grants during a joint evidence session held yesterday (Wednesday) by the Commons Treasury and work and pensions committees.

The committees are holding a fresh inquiry, following a critical report last month by the National Audit Office (NAO) which raised significant concerns about Motability Operations, the company which runs the scheme on behalf of the charity*.

Only disabled people receiving the higher mobility rates of disability living allowance (DLA) or personal independence payment (PIP) – or similar payments for former members of the armed services – are eligible to join the scheme.

The evidence session saw MPs raise concerns about the level of financial reserves held by Motability Operations, high rates of executive pay at the company, and a lack of transparency by its chair, Neil Johnson, as well as the “cosy” relationship between the charity and the company.

Another key issue was what the charity would do with £400 million in donations handed to it by Motability Operations, with the expectation of a further and continuing £100 million a year, as a result of profits that were more than £1 billion higher than forecasted between 2007-08 and 2016-17.

Labour’s John Mann, a member of the Treasury committee, said there was a disabled young woman who lived in a rural area of his Bassetlaw constituency and had been refused a grant for an adapted vehicle which she needed to drive to her first job.

He questioned why such grants were being rejected when Motability Operations held £2.62 billion in reserves in March 2018 and was paying its executives such large salaries and bonuses (in 2016-17, the company’s chief executive Mike Betts received a total financial package of £1.7 million).

Lord Sterling told the MPs that the charity knew there was unfulfilled demand for grants to adapt vehicles for disabled people with high support needs. He said: “We know there’s a much bigger demand… we want to do many more of these cars for the more severely disabled.” But he admitted that the charity did not yet have a long-term strategy for spending the new funds donated by Motability Operations, although he said the money would all be spent “over a period”.

Paul Atkinson, the charity’s new chief executive, said the cost of a wheelchair-accessible vehicle can be up to £60,000, with the charity currently making £23 million in grants every year for about 8,500 people to lease adapted vehicles [many of these grants are for less expensive wheelchair-accessible vehicles].

He said: “What this donation will allow us to do for an awful long time into the future… is increase the number of people who are able to receive those grants.” He was also asked whether some of the new money could be spent on allowing disabled people to keep their Motability vehicles until the end of their three-year lease period if they lose entitlement to PIP or DLA during that time, as tens of thousands have done since the introduction of PIP by the coalition government in 2013.

Although Atkinson did not appear to answer this question, he did say that the charity already considered such requests on a case-by-case basis. He said the charity was about to launch an extensive consultation process to ask how it should spend the extra funds donated by Motability Operations; there will also be a review of the level of reserves being kept by the company.

The session saw representatives of both Motability Operations and the charity answering critical questions from MPs on the two committees. While praising the way the scheme was run and the service it provided to disabled people, Frank Field, the Labour chair of the work and pensions committee, questioned whether it was “value for money” and whether it could be provided for lower payments for disabled customers.

Sir Amyas Morse, the head of the National Audit Office, said this was possible, but he added: “We are talking about a success. And it’s very seductive to start picking a success to pieces.” He said it was “reasonable” to challenge Motability Operations to reduce the “substantial” level of “over-profits” and “deliver a leaner operation”. And he said the committees were right to be concerned about the levels of executive pay at the company.

He also said the government needed to take a “much more active part in shaping the future” of Motability Operations and then “guiding that future forward”, while there was a need for a “much more muscular” model of governing the company. He said: “These issues aren’t going to go away without significant change in the way this is operating. It’s valuable, it’s a success, but there does need to be change.”

In response to one MP, Lord Stirling was forced to admit that there were currently no black and minority ethnic governors on the charity’s board, and only one woman.

Nicky Morgan, the Tory chair of the Treasury committee, also asked why the charity had not once since 2013 sent one of its governors to attend the Motability Operations committee that is responsible for setting levels of executive pay, even though the charity had sent letters expressing concern about the issue in both 2012 and 2016.

She said: “The difficulty is that everything I’m hearing so far is there has been a very long-term cosy relationship between the charity and the company. “I think over the years you have done amazing work, but you have forgotten this is an arms-length relationship.”

Lord Sterling told her: “With hindsight, maybe one should have made sure someone should have attended it.” MPs also asked about the company’s earlier failure to disclose nearly £2million in bonuses that were due to be paid to Betts by 2022.

Mann, a long-standing critic of Motability Operations, accused Neil Johnson, chair of the company, of hiding the full value of the incentive scheme. He said: “You’re a monopoly underpinned by the taxpayer and I’m asking a simple question: why were you hiding that amount of money?”

The Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke, another Treasury committee member, said Johnson’s evidence had been “evasive” and that there had been “a lack of openness, a lack of transparency, a lot of defensiveness”.

He suggested that, even if Motability Operations had not breached the “letter” of the Companies Act over details of the incentive scheme, it had breached it in “spirit”, and added: “‘The spirit matters too. You’re all City figures.

“The spirit matters as much as the letter. Being evasive and that kind of behaviour is not right.” Johnson insisted that there was “no intention to cover [up]anything” and that Motability Operations had acted in line with best practice, but that it recognised that “there could be more openness” and had now taken steps to ensure that happened.

Asked about the level of reserves, Johnson said: “This is not a leasing company like any other leasing company.

“If another leasing company has insufficient reserves and goes to the wall then its customers can go somewhere else. Our customers can’t. That’s why we need to have sufficient reserves in place.”

But Field said the government and MPs would never allow it to fail.

*The Motability charity is one of Disability News Service’s subscribers

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