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Severely Disabled Ellie McDonald, 19, Mental Age 5, Must Have Fit For Work Test Says DWP

November 26, 2014

The family of a severely disabled teenager who has the mental age of a five-year-old have been left furious after benefits officers demanded the girl be put through a fitness-to-work assessment.

Ellie McDonald, 19, suffers from the extremely rare genetic disorder called Chromosome 7 Deletion, which means she is unable to eat, sleep or walk without the help of mother Louise.

In preparation for Ellie leaving her special needs school, her mother and her full-time carer applied for employment support allowance (ESA) to replace their child benefit payments.

But the family were shocked to be told Ellie would need to be tested to rule out her being fit for work – a process Miss McDonald branded ‘bureaucracy gone mad’.

Louise McDonald is angry that her daughter Ellie who has a mental age of five and cannot walk or eat without help – has been told she will have to undergo a fitness-to-work assessment.

The family, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, have hit out the government’s refusal to realise that Ellie, who cannot read or write and needs around the clock care, is entirely unfit to work.

They will now have to wait up to a year to receive medical tests, in which time they fear they’ll miss out on around £200 a month they are entitled to.

Miss McDonald, 42, said: ‘Ellie is completely reliant on us – she is unable to do anything for herself and has been in care from birth.

‘Two weeks before she left her special needs school we applied for employment support allowance as we would no longer be receiving child benefit.

‘They told us she would have to have another screening process to rule out she is unfit for work – even though the doctor has sent a note to show how disabled she is.

‘We filled this form out asking what Ellie could and couldn’t do. It was a joke – just crosses in every box. Ellie can’t read, write, talk or even sleep without help.’

The teenager, who turns 20 next month, was born with part of a chromosome missing and has to be sedated each night due to the part of her brain which induces sleep being disabled.

She also lives with one kidney – meaning she is prone to frequent infections – as well as bowel and bladder paralysis and 70 per cent curvature of her spine.

Miss McDonald, who lives with partner Ben, 38, and Ellie’s younger sister Megan, seven, and ten-year-old brother Joshua, added: ‘The system is too bureaucratic and it sees us as figures instead of people.

‘Surely anyone can see Ellie will never be able to be independent, let alone work. I know they only want to check to avoid fraud, but if you look fraud only accounts for one per cent of disability allowances.’

She added: ‘It’s a standard case of “computer says no” and it’s made things really difficult.

‘It’s a waste of public money and a drain on the NHS – they know of Ellie’s condition but will now have to conduct a series of degrading tests on her for the sake of proving what we all already know.’

The family receives £310 every four weeks for disability living allowance and £141 every fortnight for employment support allowance.

The family say she’ll continue to go to her day care centre after she finishes at her special school. 

A DWP spokesman said: ‘No-one should doubt our commitment to ensuring that people who need an assessment get the best possible service and are seen in the quickest possible time.’ 

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Phil The Folk permalink
    November 26, 2014 5:11 pm

    This is outrageous!! Can’t someone tell them to get her GP to invoke “exceptional circusmstances regulations 29 and 35” stating there is a substantial risk to her mental and medical health if found fit for work in a letter, so she will be spared this inhumanity!!

    • November 26, 2014 5:45 pm

      The DWP have as I’ve always stated made bad errors of judgment which as we all know kill people

      we would like to think that this is an error but as we have all to seen in the past it may not be ?

      so we need to be very careful as our own demise could come at any time and with the DWP above the law there is no one out there to help’ no police no one especially if we live alone

      we must at all times share our concerns with others like ourselves online so that at least we can offer the best advice and keep a look out for others who may be at the end of their tether in which most of us the long term sick and disabled will fully understand

  2. November 26, 2014 5:18 pm

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  3. November 26, 2014 5:22 pm

    Reblogged this on lawrencerowntree.

  4. Sasson Hann permalink
    November 26, 2014 5:57 pm

    I have this fear for my friend’s 40 year old son. He can eat drink and walk but has the mental age of about 5 due to brain damage caused by epileptic fits. He can’t read or write, cannot go anywhere on his own, and will never be able to live on his own as he can’t handle money, pay a bill, cook a meal etc etc.

    How she will actually get him to an assessment anyone knows. He refuses to go to town now, mostly I think because of memories of lying on the pavement after an epileptic fit and the shame her fears of that. If you try and make him do anything he will go hysterical, just like a small child would at times. She can’t leave him with anyone due to that either.

    He won’t speak to strangers at all for any reason. Once the DWP came to call on a ‘spot check’: he ran upstairs and refused to speak to them. He wouldn’t have understood the questions they ask anyway. The people said that they would stop his benefits so my friend telephoned a social worker, but nowadays I don’t know how helpful they would be in this way: he hasn’t even got his own social worker assigned to him now!

    If you managed to get him to the ESA centre, and you could get him to speak to the assessor (which aint going to happen!), he would answer ‘yes’ to all the questions and keep saying ‘me want work, me do, build me house’. He knows me well, but once when he answered the phone, he couldn’t understand what I asked him and just kept saying ‘yes’! And if my friend would try to interject to explain to the assessor, as have many people accompanying a claimant, the assessor will ask them to be quiet or they will be removed from the interview!!

    I really don’t know what will happen to them. He gets so worked up about things that he would most likely have an epileptic fit on the day of assessment and be unable to go. And with his income gone, my friend’s income would stop too (such that it is). They have one daughter but she has a baby and is forced to work full time, so she wouldn’t be able to help them with this. I’m ill and can’t do that much either for them.

    It’s a disgrace. Like the family above, the disabled ‘man’ will never recover, he’ll always stay at that mental age. They shouldn’t have to put up with the stress of such things.

  5. November 26, 2014 6:01 pm

    This is so inhuman and appalling and no more than harassment. I know there is a system in place for people moving from child to adult benefits but my god as bad as it is surely there must be some lee way and provision for people such as this, it is and never will be a one size fits all .. yet another benefit system fail !!

  6. November 26, 2014 7:18 pm

    Reblogged this on Ladyfreebird750's Blog and commented:
    Some times the horror of this cruel, inept government goes so far that even suspending belief is no help.

  7. Jeffery Davies permalink
    November 26, 2014 8:00 pm

    Sadly they their boss will say after vigorous roburst reports
    that they will target those who need it but sadly those who
    get this roburst reports normaly feel the dwp rath of
    yet rtu ids dismisses all yet the sick disabled mentaly ill pay
    with their lives jeff3

  8. November 27, 2014 1:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

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