Nearly one in three people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) who apply for help through a new disability regime are denied support, new figures show.
Some 31% of new claims for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from those with MS were “disallowed” by officials, a leading charity found through a freedom of information request.
The MS Society also discovered that some 6% of new claims between 2013 and this year were initially successful, only to be rejected after a reassessment.
MS is a long-term progressive condition, for which there currently is no cure.
Jane Galvin, 60, was diagnosed with MS in 1990. She now can’t walk any distance without pain, even with a walking stick.
Galvin says her Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) assessor seemed to have no understanding about MS and had made lots of errors in her report.
“They said I could remember to take my medication and prepare food, but this was blatantly untrue,” she said. “I can’t use the oven. I have extreme difficulty with my memory and I rely on my husband to remind me about things all the time.
″I felt so frustrated at not being believed. There’s something very wrong with the system if so many people aren’t awarded what they’re entitled to.”
Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive of the MS Society, said: “It’s insulting that so many people who are diagnosed with a long-term, incurable condition are being told they don’t qualify for support.
“Having MS is hard enough; it shouldn’t be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “PIP assessments look at how individuals are affected by conditions such as multiple sclerosis over the majority of days in a year, rather than just assessing ability on a single day. Under PIP, 36% more people with multiple sclerosis receive the highest rate of support than under the previous DLA system.
“More than 2.6 million PIP decisions have been made, and of these 8% have been appealed and 4% have been overturned. In the majority of successful appeals, decisions are overturned because people have submitted more evidence.”