Terminally Ill Dad Fails PIP Assessment- For Hugging His Daughter
A dying dad has told how his disability benefit was axed – after he lovingly reached out to hug his four-year-old daughter.
Father-of-five Mark Roberts, 45, has just two years to live after surviving a massive heart attack.
But he says he scored zero on a test of his mobility and daily living after an assessor watched him embrace his little girl Saffron, who was suffering from chicken pox.
“It’s so shocking,” said Mr Roberts.
“I would rather risk my own health by leaning forward to hug my daughter than see her struggle. I don’t know what that’s got to do with anything.”
His furious wife Anne, 49, added: “I think there should be a warning to all the other people out there who are dying.
“Don’t cuddle your kids or your benefits will be stopped.”
Mr Roberts from Wrexham, north Wales, was assessed for his benefits earlier this month when a woman came to the house to ask a list of questions – including whether he could make a basic sandwich and how many ‘bus lengths’ he could walk.
He has now been told that as of April 12 he will no longer qualify for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) – which replace the Disability Living Allowance – worth £559 a month.
The devastating letter informing him his money had been cut claims he can wash and bathe himself without help.
But it also includes the line: “You were able to sit forward on the sofa on one occasion in order to cuddle your daughter.”
Mr Roberts, who has just 50 per cent heart function, also suffers from fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing and chest pains and says he is unable to work.
He uses his benefits for essentials but also to buy Christmas vouchers for the family, including Liam, 16, Jasmin, 14, Rhys, 11, and Rhiannon, seven.
“I want to give them good memories of me,” he said.
He told how doctors at Wrexham Maelor Hospital gave him about five years to live three years ago after suffering the biggest heart attack they had ever seen anyone survive.
Mrs Roberts said his condition would gradually worsen and the money would be needed for care costs, such as adaptions to their home.
But she said that the woman who carried out the assessment did not even know her husband was terminally ill and branded the decision not to grant him PIP “disgusting”.
“He can’t work because he’s only got 50 per cent of his heart going. He’s suffered heart attacks in the past,” she said “I’m just disgusted. What has he got to do to get benefits?
“We’re not scroungers. We’re not making this up.
“The whole thing has been very upsetting. The questions the woman asked had nothing to do with what’s wrong with him. They were just awful.
“She was heartless and she showed no compassion. It was appalling. When Mark hugged Saffron she was watching him like a hawk and typing away like mad.”
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Mr Roberts added: “I’m not crippled. I never said I was incapable of hugging my child, but I do find things difficult.
“When you have got a heart that pumps at 50 per cent, it’s hard to explain how it makes you feel. Just walking upstairs to the toilet puts you out of breath.”
He said his condition worsened after the visit and his assessor was told but this had not been reflected in the final decision.
“It’s like they just don’t believe you,” he said. “They haven’t even seen my medical records.”
The former forklift truck driver and warehouse worker is now waiting to hear how the decision will affect his £280 fortnight income support benefits- and if he is entitled to any other form of benefit.
The couple are also forwarding a letter from the heart failure team at Wrexham Maelor Hospital hoping to challenge the ruling.
Mr Roberts added that he welcomed Iain Duncan-Smith ’s resignation as Work and Pensions’ Secretary over disability payments.
“I think it’s a great thing when someone is willing to stand up for what they believe in and I admire him for it,” he said.
A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Decisions on eligibility for Personal Independence Payment are made after consideration of all the evidence, including an assessment and information provided by the claimant and their GP.
“Claimants can appeal their decisions during which they can submit more evidence.”