Duncan Lewis

Family Law

know matters can be both

highly sensitive and confusing

Existing system of disability benefits are overcomplicated says the Works and Pensions Department

Date: (2 May 2012)    |    

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An engineer from Huddersfield who has had both his legs amputated due to meningitis was asked how far he could walk when he applied for disability living allowance (DLA)
John Bower, 45, applied for the benefit in February following a dreadful five months for him and his wife, Jayne, 48.
The couple had told the Huddersfield Examiner that Mr Bower became ill in October last year and was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with meningitis.
Medics at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary saved his life but gangrene developed in his legs. In December the decision was taken to amputate both of his legs below the knee.
Mrs Bower described how, after her husband applied for DLA, they had to answer questions over the phone about his claim including how far he could walk and when he would be able to walk.
She said the questions were like probing for something which could allow them to deny the allowance. It was as if they were trying to catch them out with their questions. She told them to visit and see John for themselves if they didn't believe but they said they don't do home visits.
The couple said they are currently living on £81.61 a week sickness benefit, plus £10 a fortnight housing benefit. They are also living in a temporary bedsit while they wait for a house to be adapted by the council.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said that DLA was an outdated benefit and the existing application process was over-complicated. It said that they would be introducing the new personal independence payment with a face-to-face assessment.
A face to face meeting would give people the opportunity to discuss the effects of their condition with a health care professional in person.
It is understood Mr Bower will receive a decision on his disability living allowance in the next few days.