The family of an engineer who has had both his legs amputated said today they could not believe he was asked how far he could walk as part of his application for disability living allowance (DLA).

John Bower, 45, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, applied for the benefit in February following a nightmare five months for him and his wife, Jayne, 48.

The couple 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: "It was as if they were trying to catch us out with their questions. We told them to come and see John here if they didn't believe us 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: "We sometimes contact people over the phone to speed up the claims process and verify information.

"People can tell us if they prefer to be contacted through the post.

"We know that DLA is an outdated benefit and the existing application process is over-complicated. That is why we are introducing the new personal independence payment with a face-to-face assessment.

"This will 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 about his disability living allowance in the next few days.