A MAN who has had both legs amputated is struggling to survive financially – because bureaucrats are still deciding if he is disabled.
For the past 20 weeks John Bower and wife Jayne say they have been living through a nightmare while officials from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) decide if he is eligible for Disability Living Allowance.
The Golcar couple claim they have had to answer numerous questions from civil servants – even though a simple check would reveal that Mr Bower has had both legs amputated below the knee.
Despite the DWP being supplied with medicals details from a consultant, the couple were then asked questions which included:
How far he could walk?
When would he be able to walk?
Was it true that he had prosthetic legs?
The couple are also waiting for a house in Kirkheaton to be adapted by Kirklees Council, which promised that it would take six weeks. That was 12 weeks ago.
The council has rehoused John, 45, and Jayne, 48, in a bedsit with twin beds in a sheltered housing scheme off Sycamore Avenue, Golcar. The couple are trying to manage on £81.61 a week sickness benefit, plus £10 a fortnight housing benefit.
Their nightmare began last October when John returned to their semi-detached Bradley council house feeling unwell after his day’s work as an installation engineer for Fujitsu.
His conditioned worsened and in the early hours of Saturday, a bruise appeared on John’s leg and he began to swell and sweat profusely. Jane called 999 and a paramedic arrived swiftly on the scene.
John was rushed to hospital where meningitis was diagnosed. Septicaemia set in and he almost died. He had to be resuscitated three times by doctors at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and a priest was called.
Against all the odds, John survived, but then gangrene was diagnosed. This led to 16 weeks in hospital and on December 13, both of his legs were amputated below the knee.
The application forms to the DWP were sent in February.
Last week a DWP employee rang the couple with a series of questions. They also rang Jayne’s mother Joan Clerkin and asked her the same questions.
Mrs Clerkin, of Barker Court, Birkby, said: “It is absolutely disgusting. The questions they were asking were just unbelievable. After a while, I told them I would not answer any more of their awful questions.
“You have more chance of getting an audience with the Pope than getting anywhere with Disability Living Allowance.”
Jayne, who works one day at week at Asda and is not entitled to carers’ allowance, said: “It was as if they were trying to catch us out with their questions. We told them to come and see John here if they didn’t believe us, but they said they don’t do home visits.
“ I don’t know where we would go, but the letters come from Blackpool. It is not right”.
She added: “I’d like to thank the staff at the Infirmary, who were also absolutely fantastic. So were John’s employers Fujitsu and Asda, who both helped us out at Christmas.
“When you love somebody, it is so hard to see someone so active come down with such a bang. But John has been so strong, he is the one comforting us.”
A DWP spokesman said: “It is not a case of an instant answer, we just needed to check on certain things. Some of the questions can be awkward, but they do require answers and confirmation.
“It takes a little bit of time to process the application, but Mr Bower can expect a notification letter of the decision within the next few days.”
Kirklees Council issued the following statement: “Work on the couple’s new home is virtually complete and should be ready this week.
“The work has been extensive and involves bathroom adaptations, alterations to internal doors and a ramp which has also created a new access. Work was started on March 6 and the couple were given the choice of moving in before the alterations were complete, or waiting until they were finished.”