A woman who can collapse at any moment due to living with a rare heart condition has spoken about her battle with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to get the benefits she desperately needs.
Gail Ward, 63, suffers from Prinzmetal’s angina, a rare form of angina where attacks can occur even when resting, has been told by the DWP that she doesn’t qualify for Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
Gail, who is also a respected disability rights campaigner, had been claiming Disability Living Allowance for 20 years, but after been ordered to attend a mandatory reassessment for PIP she was told that her benefits would stop because she failed to meet the qualifying criteria.
Prinzmetal’s angina can cause arteries in the heart to spasm during times of stress or cold weather, which severely limits a person’s indepedence and can also be life-threatening.
Gail told the Chronicle Live: “It occurs when you are resting and you don’t get any warning. It is not like normal angina.
“I can be in the sitting room having a conversation and the next minute I have collapsed.
“I need to wear a pendant bracelet in case I collapse but sometimes I don’t even get to press that.
“It has such an impact on my life. If I have a severe attack I could not even put a sentence together but find that if I rest up it allows the body to repair itself.”
Gail Ward, who also has arthritis and hip dysplasia, say’s that living with the condition leaves her feeling tired and drained and that this has been exerbated by her battle with the DWP.
She appealed the DWP’s decision. After waiting 15 months for her case to be heard at a social security tribunal, Gail was told that her appeal had been successful and that her benefits would be reinstated.
Commenting on her own experience and that of other people who struggle to get the support they are enitled to, Gail said: “Disabled people are losing their mobility cars, losing disability entitlement when they are moving to PIP.
“It is a different criteria. It is basically about what you can and can’t do. It is a disability analysis, not a medical.
“People with severe disabilities are losing their DLA after being on it for 20 or 30 years.”
She added: “I would like the DWP to clarify why they refuse to address poor quality assessor report failings and decision maker decisions, which put disabled people are risk of financial hardship.
“I would like answers as to why the DWP stop the mobility component money from date of applying.
“I applied in July 2018 but the assessment was in October 2018, yet if a claimant is successful the mobility component is paid from decision date.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that disabled people get the support they’re entitled to.
“Decisions to award PIP are based on all of the evidence available to us at the time.
“Ms Ward has been awarded the enhanced rates to PIP for daily living and mobility after additional evidence was provided.
“She continued to be supported with Employment Support Allowance while awaiting the outcome of her PIP tribunal.”