Belfast dad's anger as daughter with stage four cancer told she can’t have Personal Independence Payment
A father has spoken of his disgust after his cancer-stricken daughter was turned down for benefits, branding the system "totally disgraceful and wrong".
Roisin McWilliams (28) from west Belfast was diagnosed last Christmas with stage four Hodgkin's lymphoma.
She has received extensive chemotherapy on three occasions but has just learned that the treatment is not working.
The young mum is now resistant to chemotherapy and waiting to see if she qualifies for a new treatment and also a stem cell transplant.
Roisin, a chef, has been unable to work since her cancer diagnosis nine months ago. Despite going through the assessment process, she didn't meet the criteria for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Her father Tom says this would have provided financial comfort to both herself and her three-year-old daughter each week.
PIP began to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in 2013. It brought in a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews of a claimant's ability to wash, dress, cook and get around, as well as their reading and communication skills.
Tom says Roisin and the family feel very angry and let down by this decision.
"Every day is a nightmare for us all because Roisin's treatment has just made her so ill and weak. If she was able to work full-time to support herself and her daughter, she wouldn't be asking for help. She is a very proud girl and getting her to apply for benefits in the first place was a big task," he said.
"I'd love to know exactly what Roisin has to do to convince others that she is unfit for work -the evidence is clear to see.
"I'm so angry at the system. There is something seriously wrong here with our benefits system and something must be done to change this.
"It seems to be the most vulnerable people in our society who are being crucified.
"Roisin has never asked the Government for hand outs, as she has worked all her adult life to support herself.
"She is a very self-sufficient person who has always paid her taxes, yet now when she asks for help the answer is no. It all just seems so unfair."
When contacted, the Department for Communities said it could not comment on individual cases.
A spokesperson added: "PIP is payable to individuals who meet certain eligibility criteria.
"Individuals who are not entitled to PIP may instead be entitled to receive other benefits.
"Entitlements to benefits can also change over time as individuals' circumstances change.
"In all cases,if a person disagrees with the department's decision to not award PIP, they can ask for the decision to be reviewed and we will consider any additional information provided," the spokesperson added.