Severely disabled man told he must take medical to prove he is not fit for work (From The Northern Echo)
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Severely disabled man told he must take medical to prove he is not fit for work
UNABLE to walk, talk or feed himself, Ryan Norman has needed round-the-clock care since he was four months old.
Now, at the age of 20, Government bureaucrats say he must have a medical to see if he is fit for work before he can claim the benefits his mother relies on to care for him.
Ryan’s mother, Ceneta, his sole carer, claims she is in serious financial difficulties after Ryan’s child benefit and tax credits automatically stopped on his 20th birthday on September 1 – with a wait of several weeks before he is assessed for adult benefits.
Ms Norman, from Darlington, described her son as a baby trapped in an adult’s body and said she cannot understand why he must prove his disabilities for the adult benefits system when his condition is already well documented.
The single mother said she will struggle to provide for Ryan and her two other children, Shane, 15, and Shanice, nine, without money for Ryan’s care.
Ms Norman, 49, said: “Everything seems to be such a struggle, they [the authorities] don’t seem to think of him as a person at all.
“There’s no communication between the children’s side and the adult side at all – they blame each other and I’m passed from pillar to post. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Child tax credits are assessed and paid by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and automatically stop when a child reaches 20 if they have been in full-time education.
The adult benefits system is operated by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which introduced a Work Capabilities Assessment last year to determine whether disabled people could be considered fit for work.
Ryan was born a healthy baby but contracted meningitis at four months old, leaving him severely disabled.
He attended a special school at Education Village, in Haughton, Darlington, but after turning 20 he is now classed as an adult.
Ms Norman, 49, said: “Ryan cannot walk or talk, I have to feed him, help him to drink, do everything for him.
“He’ll never work or do anything for himself. That didn’t change overnight when he turned 20.
“When he was in the hospital with meningitis the doctors didn’t expect him to pull through. They said he was a little miracle.
“I look after him, he’s my pride and joy, but I must be saving them [the Government] thousands of pounds by looking after him myself.”
Ms Norman claims she had been given no indication that her payments for Ryan would stop so suddenly and only found out about the need for a medical after calling the benefits office when she noticed her payments had been reduced.
She added: “I can understand the need for his benefits to change but it’s the gap between the child benefits ending and the adult ones starting. There’s no co-ordination.”
A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said: “The changes in benefit referred to are a result of Government policy.
“DWP are responsible for the assessment for these benefits not the council. However, the council is providing the family with advice regarding completion of the relevant forms and will continue to support the family throughout this matter.”
A HMRC spokeswoman said customers in receipt of child benefit would be written to ahead of the child finishing education.
She added: “Once a child who has been in education or training turns 20 payments will stop automatically and with immediate effect.”
A DWP spokesman declined to comment.
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