Ex-soldier fights benefits decision

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A disabled former soldier from Arbroath has been declared fit for work despite a myriad of health concerns.

Nigel Bain (58), who served in the 4th Royal Tank Regiment, was signed off work by his GP a year ago after being unable to press the brake pedal during his shift as a bus driver.

He told the Herald: “I used to whizz up and down the back roads from Brechin to Aberdeen. It was a rickety old bus and I couldn’t even wear my hearing aids it was so loud, quite the crescendo of noise.

“One day I could barely press the brake pedal, it was like someone had hammered a nail through my foot it was that bad. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, I was nearly in tears. I went straight to my doctor who signed me off.”

Diagnosed with severe gout and arthritis, as well as hearing and sight difficulties, he was recently contacted by the Department of Work and Pensions requesting he attend a health assessment in Dundee. Following the evaluation he received a telephone call dictating that his Employment Support Allowance would be stopped and he must attend the Job Centre to sign on for Jobseekers’ Allowance benefit while in pursuit of a job.

“It’s baffling, I can’t walk 100 metres, suffer from memory loss. I am in constant pain, but I am now being told my benefits have been stopped and I must start looking for a job,” Mr Bain explained. “I have been a grafter all my life. I fought through two Northern Ireland campaigns and have worked hard ever since.

“They are overruling my doctor and he has absolutely no power to do anything about it. It’s absolutely disgraceful.

“I was actually speechless when the DWP ‘phoned. The guy said if you can sit for 30-40 minutes then there’s nothing stopping you sitting at a desk. I explained I had other concerns to do with my hearing, sight and memory. I’ve also been a lorry driver for 26 years, what am I supposed to do?”

A spokeperson from DWP said: “The Work Capability Assessment is designed to look at what work someone can do with the right support - rather than just writing people off on sickness benefits as happened in the past. The decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough independent assessment and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence provided. Everyone has the right to appeal a decision if they disagree with it. We will be in touch again with Mr Bain to discuss his claim.”