A severely disabled woman says she is contemplating suicide and can no longer “face life” after a prolonged battle with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for disability benefits.
Patricia Nimmo, 62, from Hull, says she was forced to give up her job as a carer in 2016, due to suffering with Fibromyalgia and severe arthritis in her hands, but has reportedly been told by DWP decision makers that she isn’t eligible to claim the full amount of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
PIP is replacing Disability Living Allowance for all sick and disabled working age adults as part of the Government’s sweeping reforms to social security benefits, but has been met with widespread critism due to inacurate assessments and record-high appeal success rates.
The latest Government statistics show that the number of PIP claimants who successfully appeal decisions to a social security tribunal has hit an all-time high, with almost three-quarters of decisions (72%) over-turned in favour of the claimant.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that causes widespread pain and inflamation and as is known to severly limit a person’s mobility and independence.
Despite providing medical evidence, Mrs Nimmo says she has been forced to endure a 2-year long battle with the DWP to get the benefits support she desperately needs.
This has resulted in Patricia having to take out a £10,000 bank loan to pay bills and cover basic living costs.
She told the Hull Daily Mail: “I had to take out a bank loan for £10,000 in order to pay the bills, and without it, I wouldn’t have been able to survive.
“I think I’d have just killed myself like my mum did, as I just couldn’t face being here anymore if I had nothing to live off.”
She continued: “Despite having proof from doctors that I’m unable to work due to my health, over the last two years or more assessors have been claiming that I’m not entitled to PIP, or not backdating cash or paying it at the right level when they decide that I should have the money.
“I had to give my job as a carer up on Boxing Day in 2016 as I was in too much agony to work.
“I suffer from arthritis which cripples me with pain when I try to move my hands and makes it nearly impossible for me to pick things up.
“I’ve also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia – it’s a horrible illness that makes it hard for me to regulate my temperature and it creates a brain fog, which can make it really difficult for me to think and get my words out at times.
“I also have to use a wheelchair and mobility scooter to get around due to the condition, and I suffer from deafness and wear a hearing aid.”
However, the DWP says Patricia has been paid all the PIP benefits she is entitled to and continues to receive payments, which has been hotly disputed by Mrs Nimmo.
Mrs Nimmo has rejected the DWP’s comments and believes her PIP award should be higher that what she is receiving.
“The money was also not at the right level, as even though I use a chair, the assessor said I had mobility, so they wouldn’t give me a higher rate of pay.
“Then in December 2017, the payments stopped again after another assessment as I was deemed mobile, even though I need to use a chair, and I had to go two months until February 2018 waiting for another assessment.
“It was deemed that I was entitled to the enhanced PIP rate, but again, none of the money was backdated.
“Since then I’ve been appealing for more money, but I’ve been refused.
“It’s so unfair and it makes me so angry at being refused what I’m entitled to – I’ve served for my country and worked for the police, and when I can’t get anything back, it makes life a living hell and a complete and utter nightmare just to go on.
“I’ve paid my taxes and worked since I was 10-years-old. I want to work but I can’t, and being refused disability payments makes me so emotional and gets me down.”
She says the DWP’s decision has left her feeling “depressed and suicidal” with “nowhere else to turn” for help and support.
Patricia also claims that she has become “utterly isolated” and is unable to “get out of the house, or even keep my house tidy due to my conditions”.
A DWP spokesperson told the Hull Daily Mail: “We are committed to ensuring disabled people get the full support that they need.
“Mrs Nimmo is receiving her full PIP entitlement, after providing more evidence of her condition, and we will be in contact with her to provide any assistance she needs to claim other benefits she may be entitled to.”
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article the Samaritans offer a 24-hour advice and support line that can be contacted free on 116 123 (UK).