It’s true. People with variable diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, have known this for some time. It has now been proved. The government does NOT understand variable conditions.
The UK’s Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) decision to deny the payment of disability benefits to the family of a seven-year old girl has underlined that lack of understanding.
Hollie Stonehouse has Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), a severe childhood condition, for which she needs chemotherapy treatment.
According to Teesside’s Gazette Live, based in Middlesbrough:
In November last year, Hollie’s JIA appeared to be in remission and in March this year all disability benefits, including carer’s allowance paid to Hollie’s mum, Andrea Keenan, were stopped.
But Andrea, 48, said that Hollie’s arthritis came back “with a vengeance” just before Christmas.
Variable conditions come and go
She said: “In November, she appeared to be doing well so the doctors tried to wean her off her medication as it looked as though she was going into remission.
“But a week before Christmas, Hollie’s arthritis had come back, not only to all the joints in her body – knees, ankles, toes, fingers – it had sadly spread to her neck.”
The DWP has made its usual comment that you and I know far too well. It says that its decisions are based on information it receives – and that Hollie’s family can appeal.
But that’s a disgrace, the family members shouldn’t have to appeal. And they wouldn’t need to if the benefits had not been stopped. This is yet another example of the insanity that is the UK disability benefits system.
Why the DWP doesn’t understand disease with variable conditions is beyond me. Good and bad days should be taken into account. If someone is regarded as being affected by a disability on some days but not others, the fact remains that they have a disability.
To say that anyone is perfectly healthy when unable to move one day, but not on another, is plainly ridiculous.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.