News23rd March 2015
Deaf Man Moves One Step Closer To Biggest DLA Award in the UK
Deaf man was denied disability living allowance despite needing constant assistance.
PRESS RELEASE FROM BENEFITTRIBUNALS.NET
Steven Mifsud from Crewe moved a step closer to winning a landmark tribunal case last week. It is a case that challenged the harsh decisions that have been meted out by Government officials to Deaf claimants since the economy crashed, rightly seeking to put money back to providing the support that Steven and many people like him need to survive. A deaf client of benefittribunals.net Steven has won a vital stage in the process in seeking the largest Disability Living Allowance back pay award in the UK in his Disability Living Allowance (DLA) tribunal, after fighting for benefits for over 5 years.
Born profoundly deaf, Steven has worn two hearing aids most of his life, and in November 2012 he underwent surgery to have a cochlear implant fitted. For the last 11 years Steven has managed the company he founded, Direct Access which specialises in disability access audits for a range of clients. His tribunal case stems from a decision to deny him the disability living allowance, despite needing constant assistance.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) denied Steven the mobility allowance and awarded a reduced care allowance. After representation from benefittribunals.net the Upper Tribunal backdated his award for the full five years.
During the tense hearing, the client was represented by a leading expert disability specialist from benefittribunals.net and the client was accused by the DWP of being a bad father simply because he could not hear his daughter cry (as he is severely deaf).
I asked Steven why he had challenged the decsion and taken the case all the way through to this stage. "I felt my arguments were just not being heard," Steven told me frustratingly. "So many people underestimate and don’t understand the social impacts that someone with a hearing impairment can face. For over ten years I have been arguing that the existing award was minimal and does not go anywhere close to helping me remove some of the challenges that being deaf can present. I strongly believe that it is society that disables a person rather than the actual impairment – DWP are clueless when it comes to understanding the Social Model of Disability. To finally achieve what I believe is the correct award is extremely satisfying and I would never have reached this point if it wasn’t for Carl and his team at benefittribunals.net
Commenting on the award, Director of Claims at DCM which owns benefittribunals.net, Maurice McDermott stated, “This client has fought for 5 years for recognition of his quite obvious disabilities; we are pleased that following our expert representation he has been awarded the vital assistance he needs”.
The DWP may now be required to pay back to the the client the £19,700 minus any interim payments that have been made.
Expressing how he feels about winning this potentially pivotal hearing, Steven said, "I have mixed feelings about winning the award. Yes, I am so elated on winning such a large sum and it will help tremendously, however, on the other hand I feel that I shouldn’t have had to take DWP to court in order to argue what I believe I was entitled to in the first place. In court I had to explain that because of my hearing impairment I struggled to hear my children cry, this was extremely degrading. DWP also stated that when I originally got in touch to claim DLA that I telephoned them! They are completely out of touch with reality and it is so important to get help, the ‘average person’ will struggle to get what is entitled to them."
This would be the largest back paid award in the United Kingdom.
In light of his success so far in this case and the tenacity with which he has pursued a 'just' outcome, I asked Steven for his advice to anyone else who has suffered similarly at the hands of the DWP. "The system is just not helpful. It feels like the process is designed in such a way where it's, ‘how can we pay the minimum or get away with not paying anything, rather than how can we help an individual remove the barriers that a person with a disability can face.’ It is so important to seek specialist help in order to achieve the correct award that a person is truly entitled to. I have no problem whatsoever and would heartedly recommend that anyone looking to claim DLA or is having problems with the process to get help from Carl and his team."
Article by Sarah Lawrence
posted in Community / News
23rd March 2015