Why vital disabled service DIAL must be saved: Man with brain damage tells his story - The Solihull Observer

Why vital disabled service DIAL must be saved: Man with brain damage tells his story

Felix Nobes 27th Mar, 2019   0

A DISABLED man with severe brain damage says he would have lost more than £100 a month in benefits were it not for an under-threat Solihull charity.

Paul Chambers, 54, from Shirley, who also has epilepsy causing regular seizures, has issued a rallying call to others in his position to protest and save disabled charity DIAL.

The charity received funding as part of the long-standing Citizens Advice Solihull Borough (CASB) contract with the council – which has now been awarded to Age UK instead.

DIAL provides free information, advice and advocacy for disabled adults, children and their carers.

Mr Chambers says the service is vital to prevent ‘disability discrimination’ and helped him when he was not being provided the benefits he was entitled to.

Mr Chambers was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 16 years old and had part of his brain removed when he was 22 in an effort to control the condition, which backfired.

At its most crippling, the condition can cause Mr Chambers to suffer three or four serious seizures a day which can result in injuries and falls.

He is heavily medicated and cannot drive or work.

When he applied for his Personal Independence Payments (PIP) benefit, he claims errors were made in his claim after an assessment and face-to-face interview – in which he suffered a seizure.

He sought DIAL’s support after suspecting he was being underpaid and claims there were omissions in his report including hearing and communication difficulties.

He says DIAL’s chief executive Alice Singleton then confirmed the omissions and pursued an appeal on his behalf.

The appeal was settled before going to a hearing, he claims, and he was reimbursed and began to receive his appropriate payments.

DIAL bosses claim it has a 100 per cent record of success on appeal for benefit payments claims.

Mr Chambers said: “Without DIAL I would have been well underpaid. But DIAL could see the errors and they sorted it all out and arranged the calls.

“They did the lot. I didn’t have to do a thing.

“I spoke to people at the meeting (public meeting) who said they had been reimbursed quite a lot of money, so they have had the same problem.

“Companies do not have a clue about people’s conditions. They have got no health experience and getting things wrong with benefits.

“If DIAL go and we don’t save their offices, people are going to lose out on their benefits.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “PIP looks at the way an individual’s health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis.

“In November 2017 we updated our guidance, which increased entitlement for a number of claimants, particularly those with conditions such as epilepsy.

“We have now begun an administrative exercise to identify existing claimants who may be affected and may be entitled to more support under PIP.”

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