Clare woman with multiple sclerosis reveals struggles after losing disability allowance
A woman from Clare who suffers from multiple sclerosis is raising awareness of the lifelong condition after losing her disability allowance.
Nina Holmes, of Pask Way, was diagnosed with the condition, which causes problems with her mobility and co-ordination, 20 years ago.
The 50-year-old is dependent on walking aides and frequently suffers from fatigue.
Mrs Holmes could not maintain a full-time job as a result of the condition, and had received Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for more than a decade.
In 2016, when the benefit was replaced by Personal Independent Payment (PIP), Mrs Holmes was no longer deemed eligible and lost her financial support.
“It was a lifeline – I relied on it,” she said. “The thing with MS is you look quite normal but, with day-to-day life, people don’t understand how difficult it is to do normal things, like cooking and shopping.”
Under PIP, anyone with MS who can walk more than 20 metres does not qualify for financial support.
But Mrs Holmes said the latest assessment did not reflect the symptoms caused by the condition.
“I think they should remove that requirement because some days you can walk 20 metres and other days you can’t get up the stairs,” she said.
The mother-of-one compared days when she felt exhausted to the feeling of running a marathon, and described the assessment process as depressing and demoralising.
“It seems very unfair,” she said. “It’s not supportive at all for people who have enough to contend with to maintain their health.
“Why can’t a GP or health care professional decide if you’re eligible? It puts a lot of pressure on the individual.”
Following the revised system, Mrs Holmes lost access to her mobility car and was forced to buy a new one which was only part-funded.
“I would be stuck at home if I didn’t have a car,” said Mrs Holmes. “I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere.
“There are people whose lives would be devastated by the loss of their mobility car and the support they need.”
Mrs Holmes was recently reassessed for PIP and is awaiting the outcome.
She visited the Houses of Parliament in Westminster where she met MPs to discuss the revised system.
“It was great to have the opportunity to go to Parliament and have a voice and be listened to,” added Mrs Holmes.