Shrewsbury woman with epilepsy so severe she set fire to herself has Personal Independence Payment benefits removed

Pippa Hammond, 24, from Shrewsbury, suffered one of her many unpredictable fits when drying her hair.

The hair dryer was left on and eventually sparked flames on the carpet where she lay – leaving her having to recover in hospital for two months.

However despite this, she has been refused any benefits under the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme after having scored zero in every category.

Initially she had been getting £450 a month in disability benefits after her mum had to give up work to care for her.

But the most recent PIP assessment was unsuccessful – despite her insisting that nothing had changed in her circumstances – and saw her lose the cash.

Speaking to Metro, she said: "Nothing in my life has changed – if anything my condition has got worse with increased seizures.

"Now losing this money had made my life very difficult now as that little bit of independence I have has been taken away completely."

Assessors said that she could wash herself independently, despite her needing someone to be in the room with her in case she suffered a seizure.

She added: "Basically if I don’t I could drown.

"My seizures are unpredictable. They could be any minute of any day."

Last month it emerged that the government is going to review all 1.6million claims for a disability benefit after it decided not to contest a High Court ruling.

The ruling is expected to see around 220,000 people with mental health conditions receiving PIP awarded higher payouts.

The benefit scheme sees money paid to people aged between 16 and 64 who need help with the extra costs caused by long term ill-health or disability. It replaced the Disability Living Allowance scheme in 2013.

The maximum amount a claimant can receive is £141.10 a week and the payout depends on how the condition affects you, not the condition itself.

All claimants are assessed by a health professional before receiving any award.

 

Regulations introduced in March prevented an award of the higher PIP mobility rate if someone cannot take a familiar journey on their own unless it is "for reasons other than psychological distress".

A High Court ruling said the policy had been "blatantly discriminatory" against people with mental health conditions.

Ministers said the judgement would cost an extra £3.7billion by 2022.

December's judgement said the policy had been "blatantly discriminatory" against people with mental health conditions.



 

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