MS patient ‘lost her disability benefit after 10 years’ following switch to PIP

MS patient Nina Homles from Clare Picture: ALEX GRACE/MS SOCIETY

MS patient Nina Homles from Clare Picture: ALEX GRACE/MS SOCIETY - Credit: ALEX GRACE/MS SOCIETY

A Suffolk woman living with a debilitating condition has spoken out about her “depressing” battle to keep her disability benefit – and her life-line car.

Nina Homes, 50 and from Clare, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1998 and uses two walking sticks to get around because she has poor balance and co-ordination.

Mrs Holmes said she had received the highest rate of mobility support for more than 10 years under Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

However, Mrs Holmes claimed she had her money withdrawn following a reassessment in 2016 to move on to the Government’s new disability benefit – called Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Mrs Holmes was faced with losing her specially adapted Motability car, but she decided to fully fund the vehicle herself to retain her independence.

“My life would stop if I didn’t have that car,” said Mrs Holmes. “I wouldn’t be able to do anything, and yet I’m deemed no longer eligible for it.

“The assessment was a really depressing, stressful and humiliating experience. It gave me the feeling I wasn’t being supported, I wasn’t taken seriously and that my points aren’t valid.

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“Living with MS is challenging enough as it is without having your benefits withdrawn and being deemed not worthy of them, when actually, you could really do with the help.”

Mrs Holmes is featured in a new report published today by the MS Society around the impact of PIP on people with MS.

The charity claims many MS patients had lost out due to the new 20-metre rule – a walking test used to determine eligibility for mobility support.

Under DLA, the measure was 50 metres.

The MS Society calculated this new rule was costing the NHS at least an additional £7.7 million a year in GP and A&E services.

Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said: “Contrary to the Government’s insistence that PIP is meant to help those with the greatest needs, the truth is it’s causing enormous harm to people with MS, with many losing their independence as a result.”

The charity has launched a petition for the 20-metre rule to be scrapped.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “We introduced PIP to replace the outdated DLA system.

“PIP is a fairer benefit, which takes a much wider look at the way an individual’s health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis.

“A higher proportion of people with MS receive the highest possible award under PIP than under DLA.”

The DWP recently announced people with the most severe, life-long conditions would no longer have to attend regular reviews for PIP.

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