Woman whose body is riddled with tumours and cannot work is denied PIP

Pearl Kelly is awaiting a decision from a tribunal about whether to overturn the decision by the Department for Work and Pensions to cancel her benefits payments

A disabled woman who suffers from a rare condition that causes tumours to grow all over her body has had the benefits she relies on stopped by the government. Pearl Kelly, 21, has a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis. It causes benign tumours to grow along her nerves all over her body.

In order to treat the condition she has had around 20 operations over the past 15 years and her first operation when she was just five-years-old. When she was eight-years-old doctors fused her spine to help fight the rare genetic disease. The operation stopped her from growing taller than 4ft 2 (127cm). Pearl, from Orrell Park, in Liverpool, also suffers from other health conditions including a curvature of the spine, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and heart problems, the Liverpool Echo reports.

The young woman said she cannot walk without using crutches and also suffers from poor mental health . All of these factors, she said, means she is unable to work.

She has now been told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has stopped paying her personal independence payment (PIP) – a benefit awarded to people to help them with the added costs of disability. Pearl, who has contested the decision, said she needs the benefit, worth around £450 a month, to help with the costs of travelling to hospitals across the North West.

She is now waiting to appear before a full appeal tribunal when she hopes to overturn the decision. Pearl said: “I am an out-patient at several hospitals across Liverpool and Manchester. I have to use public transport to travel some fairly long distances. Sometimes my appointment might be first thing in the morning so I have to travel at peak times.

“And there are the cups of coffee and snacks while I am waiting around. Just the odd coffee and a biscuit. Although I receive another benefit I need the PIP money too.” Pearl said she has spent a year filling out massive forms to become eligible for the PIP benefit.

She said: “I first applied in April 2015 and became eligible in March the following year. Some of the forms I had to fill out were nearly 60 pages long.” Athough the benefit is not means tested, claimants are medically assessed by private companies who employ health professionals. Claimants need to secure eight points to be eligible for the benefit.

Pearl said: “I have found the whole process bewildeirng. I am someone that can can’t walk from one room to another without becoming short of breath. How can they say I am not eligible.” She also said that her childhood was complicated by her illness and that bullies made things worse. “I hated school because of the bullying. I was picked on because I was different. In the end though I just felt sorry for the bullies because they were so ignorant. ”

As a teenager she relied upon crutches to move around but still managed to get 11 GCSEs at grade C or above at Walton secondary Archbishop Beck. The school played its part by offering her assistance upstairs, helping carry her bags and providing extra comfy chairs. Pearl later spent two years studying at Hugh Baird College but missed large chunks of the course to poor health.

Pearl said that she was determined to fight the DWP. She said: “I need this money and I think I am entitled to it. I get out of breath walking from one room to another and cannot walk without crutches.

“Travelling around the North West on public transport is stressful and expensive. I need help. I am obviously hoping that the decision will be overturned at a tribunal later this year.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “PIP takes a much wider look at the way a person’s health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis. The quality of assessments has risen year on year since 2015, but one person’s poor experience is one too many.

“We’re committed to continuously improving assessments and have announced we’re piloting the video recording of PIP assessments with a view to rolling this out widely. Under PIP 30% of claimants receive the highest rate of support, compared to 15% under DLA (Disability Living Allowance).”

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MPs shouted their fury at Sarah Newton as she said: Stop saying disabled people face a ‘hostile environment’

Stop saying disabled people face a ‘hostile environment’, Tory benefits chief demands
MPs shouted their fury as Sarah Newton made the shameless claim in the Commons – despite more than 100,000 people winning appeals to get PIP

How this vile witch has the gall to lie so blatantly beggars belief

Disabled people don’t face a “hostile environment” and MPs should all stop saying so, a Tory minister has demanded. MPs shouted their fury as Sarah Newton made the shameless claim in the Commons – despite more than 100,000 people winning appeals to get disability benefit PIP.

Since PIP launched in 2013, benefit changes have also forced more than 75,000 people to give up their specially-adapted Motability cars.  Shadow Disabilities Minister Marsha De Cordova said the UN had found “grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights” in the UK.

The Labour MP added today: “This government’s policies have created a hostile environment causing grave violations on disabled people.” But Ms Newton suggested people losing their cars should complain to the Motability charity – not the government.

Benefit changes have also forced more than 75,000 people to give up Motability cars 

The Tory minister said: “We have very strong protections for people with disabilities in our country. WHAT THE ****ING HELL HOW MANY LIES CAN SHE TELL!!!! 

“I honestly ask all members opposite, please do not use this language of hostile environment. It is simply not the case. “And the very people that need all of our support are put off from seeking it and coming forward. “Really, I would ask them to stop saying things which they know are not true.”

It came despite an MP warning a constituent was forced to borrow thousands of pounds when she lost her Motability car because the DWP cut her benefits. She obtained a new car – only for the DWP to reverse its decision and give her benefits back.

Yvette Cooper said: “Frankly it is outrageous that she should lose all of her savings because the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) screwed up.”

Yvette Cooper said: “Frankly it is outrageous that she should lose all of her savings”

Yet Ms Newton tried to blame the problem on Motability – not the DWP. She told MPs: “If any member has a constituent that’s facing losing their Motability car, I suggest they call Motability. “Motability are sitting on very very considerable reserves.

“They are a charity, and they are able to make discretionary payments to enable people to keep their cars while they’re going through appeal.”

MPs have previously slammed £2.4billion in reserves and bumper pay of up to £1.7million at the charity’s parent firm.

But Motability Operations chair Neil Johnson insisted much of the £2.4billion ‘reserves’ were not reserves at all because they were locked up in cars. “There’s not a bank account sitting there with £2.4billion in it,” he said. Mr Betts added: “We buy and sell 650 cars a day, 7 days a week.

“That means we’re turning over £14million a day and if that starts to go wrong that can very quickly start to escalate into something quite bad.”

Burnley family call for probe into ‘flawed’ disability benefits system

A FAMILY and MP have called for a probe into the way parts of the benefits system are run after a man born with several disabilities was initially refused extra financial help after an assessment.

Ian Greenwood [left], 52, of Burnley, has lived with autism, Asperger’s and other conditions as well as profound learning and physical disabilities all of his life.

His family said this means he has no motor co-ordination, can’t cook, feed or clean himself and as a result receives disability benefits in the form of a care package from the local authority, Burnley Council, as well as a Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

In January the family had to submit an application to the Department for Work and Pensions to claim for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is replacing DLA, and is a benefit that helps with the extra costs of a long-term health condition or disability for people aged 16 to 64.

The family’s world came ‘shattering down’ however when they were told Ian would not receive the benefit in May after a nurse working for Atos, a company commissioned by the government to do face to face assessments, stated the 52-year-old could cope unaided after examining him ‘for less than an hour’.

Mum Marion Greenwood, 78, said: “Ian has no concept of anything. Someone has to be with him at all times. He could not live on his own. It was a ludicrous assessment made by Atos.”

Mother-in-law Anne Bennett, 63, added: “We were totally amazed and gobsmacked. Either she did not believe it or she didn’t read the form correctly. I had no idea what she was thinking.”

The case was raised with Theresa May at the House of Commons by Burnley MP Julie Cooper, during Prime Minister’s Questions on June 13, and a government inquiry was launched into the case.

A senior clinician was appointed to review the medical evidence and a week on the family received a letter in the post informing them Ian was entitled to PIP after all.

Mrs Greenwood added: “The system is flawed and something needs to change. We want to stress social services were extremely good with Ian and I’ve never complained about them or the help we have received from Julie and the team.”

Ms Bennett added: “I worry for other people going through the same problem. The government should look into this.”

Burnley MP Julie Cooper said she was ‘appalled’ at the ‘disgraceful’ treatment of Ian Greenwood.

She said: “Disgracefully my experience shows that Ian’s case is not unusual – virtually every week a similar case comes to my attention.

“So until the government sorts this mess individuals will continue to suffer, I will continue to fight in their corner and a cruel and inefficient system will continue.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We’re committed to ensuring disabled people and people with health conditions get the right support that they need, and in light of new information received as part of a Mandatory Reconsideration, Mr Greenwood will now receive PIP.”

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Up to 220,000 disabled people will have to wait all summer for benefit payments they deserve

Up to 220,000 disabled people will have to wait all summer for benefit payments they deserve

Up to 220,000 disabled people will have to wait all summer for benefit payments they deserve, Tory welfare chief Esther McVey said today.

Mentally ill people face having to last through the school holidays without extra Personal Independence Payments (PIP), despite winning the right to them in the High Court.

The claimants are set to get a higher rate of PIP after the High Court said rules for assessing them were “blatantly discriminatory”. Staff are currently assessing all 1.6million PIP claims, and up to 220,000 people will get extra money backdated to November 2016.

But updating MPs today, the Work and Pensions Secretary said the first of those back payments will only come “at the end of the summer”. Ms McVey did not specify which month. Previous guidance to MPs had said the first back payments would come in “summer 2018”.

Judges just forced the DWP to review the benefit claims of countless disabled people

Judges just forced the DWP to review the benefit claims of countless disabled people

A panel of judges has backed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) into a corner. So much so, that it’s being forced to review the benefit claims of countless disabled people.

Another defeat for the DWP

On Wednesday 30 May, the legal firm Garden Court North Chambers announced that Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey had withdrawn three court appeals the DWP was making. These related to tribunal rulings that two claimants with “chronic conditions” were entitled to personal independence payment (PIP), when the DWP had previously denied them the benefit. As the chambers said, the chronic conditions were ones which needed “regular monitoring or medication, such as diabetes and epilepsy”.

But the devil is in the detail.

The DWP had denied the claimants PIP on the basis they did not meet certain criteria. This was over the rules about “managing therapy or monitoring a health condition”, part of the “Daily Living” component of PIP. One of the claimants was diabetic and needed support while they slept to monitor their insulin levels. But under DWP rules, this was only worth one point on the claimant’s PIP assessment. As the chambers reported, the department:

had been arguing that ‘therapy’ excluded treatment which consisted of the monitoring of health and administration of medication.

So, it denied them the benefit.

But a tribunal disagreed, awarding them full PIP.

Opening the floodgates?

Now, as Garden Court North Chambers reported, the fact the DWP has withdrawn its appeals is essentially an admission of error. It said the department, and specifically McVey:

has accepted that… she will now need to review past claims relating to this descriptor, to identify other claimants who may have been underpaid.

The chambers said the government had not yet specified how many people this will affect. Currently, around 1.65 million people receive [pdf, p3] the Daily Living component of PIP. In another previous case where judges ruled the DWP had made an error in its interpretation of its own rules, it had to review 1.6 million people’s claims.

The Canary asked the DWP for comment. It was unable to provide a comment in time for publication. We will update the article with any comment.

Unfit for purpose

But what the department won’t be reviewing is all the people it has previously said didn’t qualify for PIP. Some of these may have been because the department misinterpreted its own rules. For example, between 8 April 2013 and 31 July 2017, nearly 200,000 disabled people who previously got disability living allowance (DLA) were reassessed as not needing PIP.

Also, the chambers noted that the DWP’s withdrawal of its appeals:

may cast doubt on the legality of the changes [the DWP] made to the regulations in March 2017 regarding Activity 3 [managing therapy or monitoring a health condition].

When making those changes, [the DWP] did not consult before doing so. Following the [DWP’s] concession in these… cases, it now appears that the [DWP] was, through the March 2017 amendments, making a significant change in the law.

The changes were specifically [pdf, p2] that the phrase “therapy” should not include taking medication, or “any action” which would fall under monitoring a health condition.

Disabled people: enough is enough

The case is important to campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). Bob Ellard from DPAC told The Canary:

There are yet more pigeons coming home to roost for the DWP, caused by their callous disregard for their duty of care to claimants. And there are more cases in the pipeline.

The law is finally forcing this government to begin taking its responsibilities seriously. There is a long way to go yet, but it’s a start.

The number of cases where judges have had to intervene in the DWP’s actions is piling up. Meanwhile, in the past 23 months, there have been five damning international reports into successive Conservative-led governments and the department. But even amid national and international criticism, the department is doing little to rectify its disastrous conduct. If it wasn’t already unfit for purpose, the DWP is certainly headed that way.

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Sid Siddiqui backs woman with cancer fight with the DWP

 

Sid Siddiqui backs Derby woman’s cancer benefits fight, the Gogglebox star says it’s ‘not right that someone is seriously sick and they are having to worry about paying the bills’

One of the stars of TV hit show Gogglebox has backed a petition launched by an ill Derby woman which calls for a change of the law over a benefits system deemed “totally unfair”.

Sid Siddiqui – who appears on the Channel 4 show each week with his sons – has thrown his support behind the campaign by Sue Hodgkinson.

NHS worker Sid – who is also from Derby – recently spent some of his spare time at a special fundraising event to support Sue, who is currently suffering from non-hodgkin lymphoma – a condition which can cause certain blood cells in the body to go haywire.

Sid, 73, is well known locally after appearing on the Channel 4 show with his two sons Baasit and Umar. Gogglebox, which the Siddiqui family have starred in for around five years, sees them and other families react to the biggest and most talked about TV shows of the week while sitting on the sofa in Umar’s Normanton home.

DerbyshireLive reported earlier this year how Sue – who lives in Spondon and is currently too unwell to work – has been left having to survive on just £89 per week via sick pay payments.

Sid Siddiqui from TV's Gogglebox
Sid Siddiqui from TV’s Gogglebox [left]

Thankfully, Sue has had phenomenal support from her close friends who have raised thousands of pounds to help her get by with normal living costs.

Sue said she has to wait around three months (from being diagnosed) to find out whether she is entitled to a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which would give her extra financial comfort each week.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claimants have to satisfy a qualifying period of three months in order to receive a benefit payment. Because of her financial struggles, Sue has launched a petition which calls for anybody undergoing chemotherapy to be automatically entitled to PIP so they receive financial help much sooner than the three-month waiting period.

Derby's famous Siddiqui family
Derby’s famous Siddiqui family [right]

Speaking to DerbyshireLive, Sid said he could not believe how people like Sue were left to struggle financially.

He said: “I don’t know the full circumstances but it seems like there is quite a lot of hardship for people who are suffering regarding the waiting period for payments.

“In my opinion it is not right that someone is seriously sick and they are having to worry about paying the bills. “I’ve known Sue through a friend of mine and my heart goes out to people like her. It takes a special kind of person to fight what she’s going through.

“The cause she is championing is amazing. For her to launch this petition while she has been unwell has been a remarkable feat.” Sue’s petition has so far gained more than 3,300 signatures and needs a total of 10,000 to force a response from the Government.

Thousands of pounds have been raised for cancer-stricken Sue Hodgkinson - a popular face in the Chaddesden area
Thousands of pounds have been raised for cancer-stricken Sue Hodgkinson – a popular face in the Chaddesden area

Speaking to DerbyshireLive last month Sue said: “I think it (having to wait for three months) is a disgrace.

“I have worked for 50 years, paid taxes and insurance – it seems ridiculous that I have to wait that long.

“This petition is not just about me but for anybody who suffers from cancer. “Everyday there are lots of people being diagnosed with cancer, it’s just totally unfair.”

In response to Sue’s petition a DWP spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that people living with cancer and terminal illnesses get the support they need through this difficult time. “That’s why we have put special measures in place, to ensure those with terminal illnesses can fast track their PIP claims and get support in a matter of days.

“PIP is a non means tested benefit and for those who are unable to work due to cancer or terminal illness, they may also be eligible for Employment Support Allowance as an income replacement.”

To see the petition visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/215775.

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Man with cancer waited a year for his benefits appeal

My husband waited over a year for his first ESA appeal – GN


Prestatyn man waited a year for benefits appeal

Photo of Alan McKitrick wearing breathing equipment
Alan McKittrick has sleep apnoea and has to wear a mask to help him breathe

A man with cancer who had his disability benefits stopped had to wait more than a year for an appeal hearing. Alan McKittrick, 65, from Prestatyn, had to take out a £1,000 loan after his Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was withdrawn in October 2016.

He will now receive the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) after winning an appeal against the decision. HM Courts and Tribunal Service said it sympathised with him and was working to speed up the process.

Mr McKittrick has numerous conditions, including prostate cancer, diabetes, angina, and sleep apnoea. But when he applied to receive PIP, which replaced DLA, he had to wait 56 weeks for a hearing so he could prove his disabilities.

He won the appeal in April and has since received about £8,000 in back payments, but said the wait left him struggling to pay his bills. “I still had to pay my bills, they are twice a fortnight,” he said. “By the time I paid all my money out I had nothing left for myself.”

Theresa May responding to a question about Mr McKittrick's wait in the Commons
Theresa May said Mr McKittrick should talk to the Welsh Government
His case was raised in the House of Commons last week by Labour MP Chris Ruane during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mrs May said the government was “looking at the whole PIP process” but added: “If he wants to talk about health, he should talk to the Labour government in Wales.”

Mr Ruane said the benefits system needed a “vast change” and was creating a “hostile environment” towards people with long term conditions and disabled people. The Vale of Clwyd MP said Mrs May showed “no sympathy” towards Mr McKittrick.

HM Courts and Tribunal Service said it was trying to improve the system in Prestatyn and speed up the process of hearings, including by using technology. A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring that disabled people get the support they’re entitled to.

“Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant and their GP or medical specialist.”

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