September 21 2014 Latest news:
Laura Burnip, Reporter
Monday, June 16, 2014
A cancer survivor is “struggling” after being left in the lurch eight months after applying for financial support.
Patients are waiting an average of 19 weeks
56 pc found their finances took a hit
40 pc were unable to adequately heat their homes
34 pc felt the delays had resulted in mental health problems such as anxiety or depression
Malcolm Graham, 56, of Oak Street, Romford, applied for the disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in October after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.
Since then he has been surviving on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) of just £71 a month, having undergone an assessment for the benefit on May 16.
A report released today by charity Macmillan Cancer Support claims Malcolm could be one of at least 4,500 cancer patients who have waited six months or more to find out if they would receive the benefit.
He said: “I was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in September, just weeks after I was made redundant.
“This meant that as well as concerns about my health, I was very worried about how I would cope financially.
“My local Macmillan benefits advisor told me about PIP and helped me to apply in October 2013.
PIP replaces the Disability Living Allowance, and includes face-to-face assessments and regular reviews.
Malcolm underwent a successful 10-hour operation in March to remove the tumour and four-fifths of his stomach, and is now in remission.
But he faces a long road to recovery, and suffers from blood clots on his lungs which leave him out of breath.
“This causes a lot of stress that I could really do without when I’m trying to get over major treatment and surgery,” he said.
“I am struggling with bills. Due to the type of cancer I had, I need to eat specialist food and I struggle to even afford that.”
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said the Waiting for Benefits report, conducted by IFF Research, should be “treated with caution.”
He said: “Macmillan’s report is based on a very small sample size using over-simplified calculations.
“The truth is that claims for terminally ill people are fast-tracked under PIP and statistics show over 99pc of people with terminal illnesses who have applied have been awarded the benefit.”