A disability living allowance (DLA) claimant who was refused personal independence payment (PIP) developed a condition normally associated with war zones and famine victims as a result, according to the charity Welfare Scotland.
The claimant, known as Alice – not her real name – was refused any rate of PIP after being in receipt of DLA for 11 years.
This was in spite of Alice having epilepsy; arthritis in her neck, hands and knees; asthma; chronic hip pain and she had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer. Alice was also classed as vulnerable and was receiving support from social services.
According to Rob McDowal from Welfare Scotland, Alice was subjected to a very distressing and incompetent PIP assessment:
“The PIP health assessor was very curt and dry. She repeatedly told Alice that she ‘doesn’t have all day’. She also [told] Alice if she didn’t do the movements then she would tell the DWP that she wasn’t cooperating. Alice ended up attempting a range of movements which left her stiff and in agony. She said the assessor didn’t look at her once except when she was attempting the movements. The medical report they sent to the DWP wasn’t accurate. It said Alice had a cat despite her never having a cat nor even mentioning cats. The report claimed that Alice was well presented etc. This is despite her having been unable to even wash her hair for a week.”
Having been refused PIP, Alice was then found fit for work and lost her ESA.
In total, Alice was £215 a week worse off as a result of the cuts to her benefits.
Because of the cut in her income, Alice was reduced to living off cereal and had lost four stone since Christmas.
Posting on Twitter, charity worker Rob McDowall reported that, in an attempt to help, he had taken Alice to a food bank and that she had subsequently eaten a whole packet of biscuits before collapsing and being rushed to hospital.
At the hospital doctors diagnosed refeeding syndrome, a condition more commonly associated with war zones and famines when very malnourished people are suddenly reintroduced to normal food. It is a very serious condition and can be fatal.
Alice has recovered physically, but according to McDowall:
“Alice keeps saying she’s sorry for causing all this trouble. I’ve explained it isn’t her fault. She said she was terrified she was dying. But she also ‘felt like it would solve a lot of problems”.
Welfare Scotland are helping Alice to challenge both the PIP and ESA decisions.
You can read the full story in the Canary.