Dying father told he is ineligible for disability benefits after cuddling ill daughter during a health assessment

Mark Roberts will not receive the payments despite having only 50 per cent heart function

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The Independent Online

A dying fathers says he was told he was ineligible for disability benefits after reaching out to hug his ill daughter - despite being told he only has two years to live by doctors. 

Mark Roberts has been told he no longer qualifies for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) – which replaced the Disability Living Allowance – worth £559 a month after he failed an assessment carried out at his home in Wrexham, North Wales, earlier this month.

The 45-year-old has just 50-per-cent heart function following a massive cardiac arrest three years ago.

He also suffers from fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing and chest pains and says he is unable to work.

But the assessor said he was not eligible for the PIP payments because he was able to feed and bathe himself without help and was “able to sit forward on the sofa on one occasion in order to cuddle your daughter”.

Mr Roberts said his four-year-old daughter, Saffron, was suffering from chickenpox at the time and he had just wanted to comfort her. 

He told the Mirror: “It’s so shocking.

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“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.

“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.”

The father-of-five said he condition has deteriorated since the assessor’s visit but this was not reflected in the final decision. 

He said “it is like they don’t even believe you” and claimed the assessor had not even seen his medical records. 

The former forklift truck driver and warehouse worker said they were now appealing the decision and waiting to find out how it affected their £280 a month income support benefit.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman told The Independent its officials assessed people on 12 different categories including movement. 

She said: "It is misleading to suggest Mr Roberts was found ineligible for PIP because he hugged his daughter.

"Decision-makers take account of all available evidence sourced in a numbers of ways, including face-to-face assessments, medical examinations and informal observations."