Granddad, 69, with just six months to live 'devastated' after being told by DWP to reapply for his benefits
A TERMINALLY ill grandad with six months to live was “devastated” after the government ordered him to reapply for benefits or they would be axed.
Ron Stevenson, 69, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) ten years ago and depends on the weekly payments to supplement his care.
The ex-special needs teacher, from Staplefield, West Sussex, is almost completely paralysed and reliant on carers and his wife, Gill, 64.
But Ron is demanding action after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) threatened to cut his payments.
The DWP wrote to Ron last month telling him to reapply for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) – which can be up to £150 a week – as he is up for reassessment.
Ron said: "The letter said if you do not reply then on July 29 your payments will stop.
"Obviously I'm aware that this is something that can happen, but it was still a shock.
'IT WAS A SHOCK'
"People with motor neurone disease never get better – there is only one outcome and that is death.”
He added: "Anyone with a grain of sense would've realised anyone paralysed and life limited as I am cannot be anything other than eligible."
Ron suffers from the same condition that claimed the life of physicist Stephen Hawking.
He rang the DWP about his case and was told they would write to him.
What is motor neurone disease?
Motor neurone disease affects around two in every 100,000 Brits each year.
It hits nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing the function of motor neurons to break down.
Everyday activities become increasingly difficult or completely impossible.
Over time, the condition progressively worsens as the muscle weakens and can visibly waste.
The majority of those diagnosed are given a three-year life expectancy from when they first notice the symptoms.
Up to 10 per cent of MND sufferers have the inherited or genetic form of the disease.
Ron also phoned his GP for a DS 1500 form stating he would die within six months.
The office of Nicholas Soames, Conservative MP for Crawley, West Sussex, contacted Ron and reassured him his payments would continue.
On Wednesday, the DWP wrote to Ron, more than a month after his call, to confirm he will receive his PIP benefits for three more years – if he lives long enough.
He would then be reassessed for the benefit payme.
When asked about this further reassessment, a DWP spokeswoman said: "This will be a letter saying has his condition changed."
Dad-of-two Ron wants the "crazy" situation of reassessment for motor neurone sufferers to be addressed.
I have lost the use of my limbs, but I shall use my voice, while my friends can no longer
Ron said: "This individual case does not cover all the others with the condition – not everyone has the support that I do.
"Some will look at the letter and think 'oh my God', they have lost their benefits, imagine the disconsolation.
"We were promised by the government that the reassessment for benefits would stop in 2016 – this has been broken.
"I'm working to raise awareness, we won't stop fighting, despite the fact the disability is fatiguing."
He added: "I have lost the use of my limbs, but I shall use my voice, while my friends can no longer."
Most motor neurone disease sufferers die within two to five years of diagnosis.
There are more than 5,000 people suffering with the degenerative condition in the UK, according to the Motor Neurone Association.
It is estimated the cost to a family of having to live with MND is £15,000 each year.
A DWP spokesperson added: "Our thoughts are with Mr Stevenson at this difficult time and we are sorry if our notification letter caused him distress.
"We fast track reviews to confirm support for people in his situation, which can be done by the medical professional on their behalf, and we continue to pay Mr Stevenson the higher rate of PIP without a break."
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