They have decided I’m not ill enough after a 40-minute assessment”
A single mum-of-two was turned down for long-term illness benefits despite having battled cancer.
Laura Lyth, 30, was assessed for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) less than a month after her final chemotherapy treatment – however she later received a letter to say she does not qualify for the benefit.
Stoke Live report that Laura was forced to leave her teacher training course following the diagnosis and can no longer afford to pay for her son to attend full-time nursery on Universal Credit.
Laura, from Basford, Nottingham, said: “I applied for support in January after someone from the Douglas Macmillan Hospice advised me to apply because I was struggling to even walk around.
“I was having radiotherapy, chemotherapy and brachytherapy and I couldn’t do much. My mum had to take three months off work to care for me and take my youngest to nursery.
“They came to do a face-to-face assessment in April. I’d finished my treatment in March and I was starting my recovery.
“The affects of the treatment are long term and it takes a while to recover. I had to wait six weeks for a decision and was then told I didn’t qualify.”
Laura says the report did not give a true reflection of her circumstances.
She said: “The report said I was able to communicate well, but I had a support worker with me and if he hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have been able to express myself as I couldn’t think straight.
“It said I wasn’t anxious because I’m not taking medication for anxiety, but the reason why I’m not taking medication is because I’m too anxious to go to my GP because of the memories of going there with my symptoms.
“It said I appeared well-presented and nourished but my support worker helped me to get ready. I’ve had to take steroids as part of my cancer treatment and it has caused me to go through the menopause, and as a result I’ve put on weight.
“It doesn’t mean that eating isn’t a struggle for me. My mum has to cook all of my meals as the smell of food makes me feel sick.
“They have decided I’m not ill enough after a 40-minute assessment and when you’ve just been through cancer it’s not a nice feeling.
“I was 29 when I was diagnosed, I didn’t expect it at that age and I’ve got little kids. I don’t know how much more ill you need to be. It’s made me feel quite down.”
Laura has taken her son out of full-time nursery following the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decision.
She added: “I was forced to leave my teacher training where I was due to qualify this summer and start receiving a good wage for my two kids.
“The PIP money would have helped to pay for taxis because I can’t walk or use the bus as I get out of breath. My bills have gone up because I’m cold, I have a chill in my bones, so we have to have the heating on even when it’s warm.
“My son was in nursery full time and I’ve had to drop it down to 15 hours a week which is government funded.
“On top of that I’m trying to recover and toddlers are very active. If I had the PIP money I could afford to put him in nursery more and give myself a break and a better chance of recovery through rest.”
The DWP says Laura can appeal its decision.
A DWP spokesman said: “We’re committed to ensuring that disabled people get the support they’re entitled to, and PIP is available for those who need help with the costs of additional support for their daily living and mobility needs.
“Universal Credit is available for those who need help with day-to-day living costs, and Ms Lyth is receiving her full entitlement.
“PIP decisions are made following careful consideration of the evidence provided by the individual as well as their GP or medical specialist, and anyone who is unhappy with their decision can appeal.”