Alex ∼ @RespectIsVital ∼ 8th June 2018 ∼Sourced Article
A benefit claimant who found himself £346 worse off a month after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stopped his claim despite a catalogue of health problems is rejoicing after a judge ruled that his payments be reinstated.
Ben Douglas-Wilson, 45, from Clinton Road, Redruth, was just a young child when he was diagnosed with salaam epilepsy and so begun a lifetime of health problems. When he was a baby doctors told Ben’s parents that due to the severity of the fits he was suffering, which could potentially have killed him or left him severely brain damaged, steroids would be needed to stop them.
After 24 hours the drugs eventually took effect but Ben was so weakened he contracted pneumococcal meningitis, a consultant later admitting that he had been given a higher dosage of steroids than usually used with infants as doctors had been so pleased with the first results of the drugs.
During that stay in hospital Ben also developed hydrocephalus, caused by a build-up of fluid inside the skull which can increase pressure and cause damage to the brain, and was treated at Great Ormond Street after operations to fit a Spitz-Holter shunt inside his skull to drain fluid from his brain to his heart.
Ben’s parents were then told by a consultant that he would never lead a normal life and was unlikely to live past the age of three. Today his eyesight is poor, he is weak on his right side and walks with a stick. Because the right side of his body has atrophied Ben walks unsteadily with a limp, is in permanent pain and, due to his unsteadiness, often falls over.
Also, due to the damage done to his body from the extraordinarily high dose of steroids he received as a baby he regularly picks up common illnesses and, in recent years, has had a recurrence of epilepsy.
DWP refuse him PIP
Despite Ben’s past problems and the ongoing difficulties he faces, in September he was told by the DWP that he will no longer receive financial assistance after more than 20 years of receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA). This decision reduced his only income to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) of £67.55 a week.
This came about when he was informed he must apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) as it replaced DLA. After a face-to-face meeting which he felt went well, Ben was refused the benefit, leaving him out of pocket.
However, after an eight-month battle, a judge at Truro Magistrates’ Court ruled at a tribunal that his claim for PIP was legitimate and the benefit should be granted.
As a result Ben, who is still in constant pain, will now receive a PIP payment of £581 every four weeks and also be entitled to working tax credits, meaning that he will be £180 a week better off in total. He also expects to be paid £4,600 in back payments from the time when he wasn’t receiving any financial support.
Despite his health issues Ben achieved a BTEC national diploma in business and finance but, other than an 18-month stint at MTV, has never been able to hold down a conventional full-time job. He occasionally picks up little earners working as a DJ and runs an online radio station from his home.
A delighted Ben said: “The tribunal was on May 8. My cousin and dad came down and we put a 205-page file together which was like a novel.
“We had to take it to a tribunal because the DWP weren’t accepting anything we were saying. It took just 30 or 40 minutes for the judge to say I was successful in my application.
“I’m absolutely chuffed to bits and broke down in court. It’s been a long journey. I can now afford my rent, pay my bills, go on holiday and purchase new equipment for and build my DJ business.
“I still have to take loads of medication but this is a new beginning for me. I’m over the mood as effectively I have had to put my life on hold.”
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