Terminally ill man with six months to live ordered to reapply for benefits by DWP

Retired teacher almost completely paralysed by motor neurone disease sent letter saying he must reapply for payments or lose them

Colin Drury
Friday 31 May 2019 09:03 BST
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Terminally ill dad with six months to live ordered to reapply for benefits by DWP

A terminally ill grandfather has been told he had to reapply for his benefits – despite having just six months left to live.

Ron Stevenson was diagnosed with motor neurone disease 10 years ago and relies on weekly payments to supplement his care fees.

The 69-year-old, of Staplefield, West Sussex, has been left almost completely paralysed by the illness, meaning he relies on outside help, as well as that of wife Gill, 64.

As a result, he is entitled to £150 a week in Personal Independence Payments.

But last month the retired special needs teacher was told by the Department for Work and Pensions his situation was up for reassessment and he must reapply for the benefits or lose them.

Mr Stevenson, a father-of-two, said: “The letter said if you do not reply then on 29 July your payments will stop.

“Obviously I’m aware that this is something that can happen, but it was still a shock.

“People with motor neurone disease never get better. There is only one outcome and that is death.

“Anyone with a grain of sense would’ve realised anyone paralysed and life limited as I am cannot be anything other than eligible.”

The demand for reassessment was withdrawn on Wednesday – more than a month after it was originally made – after Mr Stevenson complained to the DWP.

But he says he now wants the system changed so others do not have to go through similar worry.

He said: “This individual case does not cover all the others with the condition – not everyone has the support that I do.

“Some will look at the letter and think ‘oh my God’, they have lost their benefits. Imagine the disconsolation.”

He added: “I’m working to raise awareness. We won’t stop fighting, despite the fact the disability is fatiguing.

“I have lost the use of my limbs, but I shall use my voice.”

In a letter confirming Mr Stevenson would not have to reapply, the DWP said his situation would now be reassessed in three years – if he lives that long.

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When asked about this further reassessment, a spokesperson said: “This will be a letter saying, ‘has his condition changed?’”

She was then reminded the condition was terminal, to which she replied: “These are the rules we have to follow.”

Another spokesperson added: “Our thoughts are with Mr Stevenson at this difficult time and we are sorry if our notification letter caused him distress.

“We fast track reviews to confirm support for people in his situation, which can be done by the medical professional on their behalf, and we continue to pay Mr Stevenson the higher rate of PIP without a break.”

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