Mother’s fears for financial security after benefits cut

Julie Neeson who has to appeal for her DLA. INNT 08-013-FP
Julie Neeson who has to appeal for her DLA. INNT 08-013-FP

A NEWTOWNABBEY mother has hit out at government assessments after her disability benefit was taken away from her.

Julie Neeson was badly injured in a car crash in May 2008 and since then she said she has been unable to work.

In the life-threatening accident on the Carntall Road a fence post penetrated the 29 year old’s stomach, her pelvis was shattered, her femur fractured and her back broken in two places among many numerous serious injuries.

The Whiteabbey woman suffers severe difficulty in moving and relies heavily on her mother and two young children for help to carry out the simplest of tasks such as changing clothes.

Julie said: “I can sit for five minutes, walk for five minutes and lie down for five minutes, but any longer and I can go into spasms.

“I can’t change clothes, do my hair or make meals without help.”

Despite her lengthy medical complaints Julie has been assessed as ‘fit to work’ and has had her disability benefits stopped.

She told the Times: “A couple of weeks ago I had an assessment which lasted for about 10 minutes with some one I had never met. I was told to stand up, put my arms out and make shapes with my hands.

“I had asked at the time would my medical records be checked, but it is clear to me that they never went near them.

“I went from the highest rate disability and middle rate care allowance to nothing.

“I had thought that there might be assessed either up or down in terms of what I was entitled to, but never for one second did I think it could be cut all together.

“When I found out I just cried, I thought it was an insult.”

Julie added: “Obviously I would not want the benefit at all and be able to go out and work, but that just is not going to happen.

“I know there is a crackdown on people abusing the system but I am not one of those people, I rely on that money to get by.”

Julie has said that she intends to appeal the decision, a spokeswoman for the Department for Social Development said: “A medical examination for disability living allowance involves an interview and a medical examination with a healthcare professional who has completed specialised training on disability and benefit awareness which enhances their expertise in interpreting the effects of functional impairment across a wide range of disability.

“The medical examination is different from what claimants might expect from their own doctor.

“The healthcare professional’s examination is not to diagnose or discuss treatment of the claimant’s medical condition; it is to assess how the condition affects them.

“The agency cannot comment on individual cases, however claimants who disagree with decisions about their benefit entitlement have a right of appeal to a tribunal which is completely independent of the Social Security Agency.”