He was still awaiting a tribunal 15 months later
A man who faces spending his life in a wheelchair had to wait 15 months for a tribunal after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) refused his benefits.
John Hinds suffers from curvature of the spine, and has blasted the waiting time “ridiculous”.
The County Durham man has received Disability Living Allowance (DLA) benefits for a number of health problems. These include osteoarthritis, anxiety, depression and curvature of the spine.
The mixture of health issues will eventually result in him being confined to a wheelchair.
Our sister title the Chronicle , based in Newcastle, reports the 53-year-old underwent a mandatory reassessment to move to Personal Independent Payment (PIP).
The DWP said he would not be entitled to the benefit and an appeal against the decision was rejected.
John then applied for a tribunal with the Ministry of Justice, which runs the hearings, but the 53-year-old waited 15 months before hearing back.
He said: “I have been receiving DLA for 19 years. I have been through five tribunals and won every one.
“To get my PIP tribunal has taken a lot longer, I have been waiting 15 months.
“It have felt horrible and it has made me depressed.”
Recent figures revealed the number of cases being challenged means claimants face huge waiting times – with the average PIP claimant waiting 31 weeks for a hearing.
John, who is £700 a month worse off following the decision, was awarded no points by the assessor.
He said: “Unless they have found a remarkable recovery, I’m not sure how they have made this decision.
“I have been told I will end up in a wheelchair.
“It is the physiotherapist who told me that.
“I have been on benefits for 19 years and have no been getting better, I have been getting worse.
“They can’t say they don’t have enough evidence.
“There was about 60 pages of documents.
“I mean, go to my GP and check.
“I think they are turning down everyone initially with the hope they won’t go to a tribunal.”
Since John contacted ChronicleLive, the DWP has said his tribunal is expected to take place on September 5.
“It is absolutely ridiculous,” he said.
“You try your best to get on with life.
“You don’t need this hassle.”
John said the system needs to be reviewed and have more qualified people handling the initial assessments.
“To be blunt, they are just a data pusher,” he said.
“She asks questions, gets her answers and types it on her keyboard into the computer, that’s about it.”
A Government spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring disabled people get the support they are entitled to.
“Mr Hinds is in receipt of ESA, which provides support to people who cannot work because of a disability or health condition.
“PIP helps with the extra costs of a disability or health condition and decisions are made following consideration of all the information provided.
“If someone disagrees with a decision they can appeal, as Mr Hinds is, and the Ministry of Justice is making improvements to speed up the process.”