A man suffering from a severe neurological disorder who has been unable to work for the past three years has now been told by benefits officials: Get a job.
Darren Lee, 49, was diagnosed with intracranial hypotension - which causes extreme pain, headaches, memory loss, chronic fatigue and dizziness - in 2013 and has been receiving a disability benefit since that date.
Now, officials have re-assessed his condition, deemed him ‘fit for work’ and have stopped his Employment Support Allowance of £125 a week. Instead he has been told to look for work while being placed on Jobseekers’ Allowance of £73 a week.
He said this week: “This is a cruel and unnecessary thing to do to anyone, much worse to someone who is ill.”
Darren, who suffers excruciating headaches which are exacerbated when he is in an upright position, said: “I can be bed-bound for up to four days at a time.” He takes strong painkillers regularly to try to control his symptoms.
Before his diagnosis three years ago, Darren, from Stone Court, Maidenbower, had suffered for the previous 10 years with a range of symptoms although he managed to keep working as a holiday tour operator.
Over the past three years he has been in hospital six times undergoing various procedures, but none have worked. He has been treated at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill and at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, - and is now waiting to be seen for an outpatients’ neurology appointment in Haywards Heath.
Meanwhile, he has contacted Crawley MP Henry Smith who has told him that he will investigate his case with the Department of Work and Pensions.
And a spokesman for the DWP itself said: “Work Capability Assessments help ensure that people get the level of support that they need, rather than just writing them off on sickness benefits as happened in the past.
“The decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough independent assessment, and after consideration of all the supporting evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist.
“A claimant who disagrees with the outcome of their assessment can appeal.”