Thursday, August 05, 2010

Terminally ill man told 'go back to work'

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Published Date: 05 August 2010
A TERMINALLY ill man with a crippling lung condition has blasted Government medical tests after his benefits were stopped when he was declared fit for work.
Michael Walker, aged 58, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, incurable scarring on the lungs, in March and given two years to live.

He says he was forced to give up work as a landscape gardener and is now on eight steroids a day and an inhaler. But at a medical test in May he says medics ignored his condition, and recommendations from Rotherham hospital, and declared him fit for work.

His employment and support allowance, formerly known as incapacity benefit, was suspended.

Mr Walker protested and his payments were restarted pending a hearing at a date to be fixed - but he says he was told he must attend JobCentre interviews to discuss his 'availability for work' or it will be stopped again.

A tearful Mr Walker, of Walker Street, Rawmarsh, said: "It's humiliating and degrading at a time when I could really do without the hassle.

"I think they had already made up their minds in that medical because they had targets to reach. To top it all they refused to take the additional information, including letters from my consultant.

"As well as trouble breathing my weakened immune system means I have to stay away from work environments because an infection could kill me. I really feel bitter about it."

The new fit to work test sees people quizzed by a medical professional.

Government figures show that in the year to November some 76 per cent of people were judged fit to work, or likely to be, or dropped out of the assessment process.

Mr Walker says he ran a landscape gardening firm for 14 years - employing two people - before that he ran a taxi company for 10 years which employed four. He added: "I have always paid my taxes and have even created jobs, I'm no work-shy scrounger."

Mr Walker spoke to The Star's Action Desk and we contacted the Department for Work and Pensions on his behalf.

A DWP spokesman said Mr Walker's Employment Support Allowance claim had now been approved.

He added: "We have looked again at Mr Walker's claim and have made payments to him after taking into account some details which we were not aware of at the time of his assessment. "We have also contacted Mr Walker to look at ways of offering additional support."

Via @lisybabe

8 comments:

Chronically Claire said...

LOVE your blog. X I think that the benefits systems can be represented by a brick wall and people feel like they are bashing their heads against it when it come to getting the help they need. It has no sense to see that people are in need, no ears to listen to issues that people have and no eyes to see the reality of all people in need and no hands to help people improve their lives.

Arienette said...

Absolutely mind-boggling. What on EARTH were they assessing him on if they were 'not aware' of his condition during the interview process? Surely the first question they ask is why you're on ESA in the first place? Oh no wait, it's probably not. Because that would be logical.

This makes me so angry. How many disabled or chronically ill people need to take their lives because of deisions like this before someone listens?

Nemonie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nemonie said...

There is a form you have to fill in when you first start claiming ESA called the work capability assessment form. It's a booklet nearly as long as the evil DLA form, with teeny, tiny boxes to write in. It asks stupid questions in the most confusing way possible and then gives the most extreme examples relating to those. You can't include any extra information when you send in the form, it is specifically forbidden. In fact they have made the booklet and envelope slightly smaller than A4 size to make things extra difficult and they have only one blank page at the pack for extra info.
In the "Medical" the Dr basically just went over the answers I had put down on the form. It seemed entirely pointless.

Dave said...

This may be the first of many such cases.BG.
The next person may be you, or may be me.
What we fail to understand is that the booklets and systems are designed to weed out applicants. The job of these departments is not to hand out benefits but to prevent them being given out.
This is the reason behind ever more confusion paperwork. One can only get benefits if one can fill in the forms. If you can't read, write of fill in forms you can get them to fill them in for you, hence the large number of "foreigners" on benefits.

Don't believe me? Look back of the last few years and how mad Gordon introduced ever more coimplicated systems to claim benefits.

Fortune may favour the brave, but benefits go only to those who can do the paperwork

Anonymous said...

Just disgusting. The exact same thing happened to me. The 'medical assessor' (ie. woman sat behind a desk) declared I was fit for work after she lied on the forms and put the opposite answers to questions I had been asked.

I've been unable to work for the past 3 years and have only claimed benefits for 2 months of them because of her. The stress at the thought of having to go through a trial put me off arguing the case.

Now my poor husband has to work extra hard to support us and is making himself ill.

Where's the justice in that?

Wheelie said...

I suspect that there's a layer to these benefit reforms that isn't being disclosed.

I rarely go out, and when I do, I'm always accompanied. I live on a straight section of road, and I have a good view of it.

One day, a couple of years back, we noticed a blue car parked outside for about a week, about 4 hours a day, randomly throughout the day, with a lass and a lad sat in it. At one point, she knocked on the window and offered them a cuppa :) - they left, sharpish.

She remarked that the expensive car and style of clothing was a bit 'up market' for our are

A couple of weeks later, I was moved onto DLA indefinite. I know that sounds a bit paranoid, but I live not too far from Rawmarsh, and I seem to be very lucky in that I have had little trouble (yet), and I've been on DLA some time. There was a downside in that I was moved to middle rate care from higher. On balance, didn't appeal.

It occurred to us at the time we were being 'monitored'. Possible?

Greig said...

I'm dreading the 'interview' I started work at 13 part time and full time at the age of 16 I have paid for myself through University and College - I have had 5 days compassionate leave when my father died, other than that I have never had a day off sick in my life! I have never been unemployed befor,, nor had benefits of any kind. I used to earn around £65k until 3 years ago when I became disabled. I now no longer have enough money for food to get me through the month and rely on friends and people giving me food packages. I was dismissed on the grounds of incapacity and disability - I had been a Director with the organisation and they couldn't make necessary adaptations for me to remain employed, i.e. allow me to work most of the time from home as I had a home office and intranet already installed so that I could still work during my annual leave! I wish I had know what was in store for me when I was dismissed - filling in forms, etc. In order to be kept below the breadline - and then to be called a scrounger, by someone who hasn't lived the amount of years I've worked. To be honest if I knew what was in store for me I would have taken all the morphine I have, and they could have one scrounger less! I have to take morphine for pain management - as there is no point opperating on my spine, as there would be little if any benefit - unless I was private; when I think of the amount of fiddles going on by most of the MP's - their claims are more than I get, as a matter of fact I could live comfortably on their expenses and other benefits! I am about to be thrown out of my house as it is being re-possed, to be honest I don't know whether to burn my home down with me inside or to try and struggle on. I am no longer human anymore and the way I am treated by Social Services is a disgrace - the irony being I used to work in the 'education and caring field' setting standards - my G-d I think the system stinks, but lets not crush people in order to fix it! I now know of three people who are going to take their own lives rather than go before a panel, their mental health has deteriorated so much - as a result of the system that is supposed to support us! One last thing - I was reported for working and taken in for interview - they could give the KGB training on interviewing with torture. I can't walk to my bed most nights, I'm in constant pain and can't sit, but find it painful to stand - if I could work I would, rather than suffer the humiliation of being on benefits! This is not a life style choice for me!