By Phillip Richards
Phillip Richards lives in Capel Llanilltern near Cardiff. He’s 56 and had a stroke in April 2010 as a result of a heart condition. Phillip now struggles to walk long distances and needs a walking stick. After his stroke he had to give up work, he’s joining other disabled people and their carers in Cardiff tomorrow for the Hardest Hit rally. In a guest blog he explains why he’s against proposals to change disability and sickness benefits.
Illness and disability have really turned my world upside down. I’ve found it a real financial hardship since my stroke.
In July 2010 I was awarded Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the low rate care and low rate mobility – I appealed against the award as I felt that I my condition meant the middle rate of care would be more appropriate (there are three rates of DLA for care; low, middle and high. There are only two rates for mobility; higher rate and lower rate) it was a toss up as to whether I would get the lower rate or higher rate of mobility — after looking at the evidence the appeal panel granted me the highest rates for both mobility and care.
At the same time as my I was also awarded Employment Support Allowance (ESA) the replacement for incapacity benefit. I was placed in the work based group (which means that the department of work and pensions determined that I was able to work) I also appealed this award as I could not work. The medical was not correct in its findings, this happens in most cases.
The initial awards were granted in July last year. I had my appeal hearing for ESA in August this year.
After verbally giving evidence the judge again found in my favour. I was placed in the Support Group until my next medical. I don’t know when that will be.
As is the case for many disabled people I would love to be fit for work, but since my stroke and the installation of a pacemaker I have serious difficultly walking and my balance is shot to bits.
For the first time since my stroke I feel like I am finally getting the financial support I need and deserve but it’s been a struggle.
Like many other disabled people I support the Hardest Hit campaign. I want to dispel this myth that disabled people and scroungers and spongers. Clearly there are a tiny minority of people who are trying to defraud the system, but the innocent majority of disabled people, like myself, are being penalised by the new reforms and “tough” initial medicals.
Ironically because of my disability I don’t feel physically able to take part in the tomorrow’s rally, but my wife and daughter will be showing solidarity with thousands of other people in Cardiff on this Saturday.
Join them and thousands more at the Hardest Hit Rally outside City Hall at 12.30pm tomorrow.
- For further information on the Hardest Hit campaign visit http://www.hardesthit.org.uk/