A DERRYLIN woman who suffers from Motor Neurone Disease has received a ‘landmark ruling’ from a High Court Judge that she suffered “a breach of her human rights” after she was denied fast-tracked disability benefits due to the uncertainty over how long she would live for.
Lorraine Cox had been required to still look for work months after she medically retired due to her condition, while other people with life-timing conditions had the immediate right to enhanced payments, Ms Cox was refused.
Instead, the 40-year-old had to undergo a medical assessment for both ‘Universal Credit’ and ‘Personal Independence Payment’ (PIP) due to a rule which states that those who qualify for payment are expected to die within a period of six months.
In court last Wednesday, Mr Justice McAlinden ruled that the difference in treatment for terminally-ill claimants who cannot reasonably meet the six month life expectancy rule was “discriminatory”.
He stated, “This difference in treatment is manifestly without reasonable justification and is, therefore, in breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
“To the extent indicated above, the applicant succeeds in her application for judicial review.”
Speaking to the Herald after the ruling, Ms Cox said; “I have been clear from the outset in taking this challenge forward that what I and others have had to go through is unfair.
“At a time when I should have been focusing on spending the remainder of my life with my family and friends, I have instead had to go through this ordeal.
She added, “I feel my decision has been justified and I hope not a single person has to go through the same experience again. I hope the six month rule can now be scrapped as quickly as possible to ensure that is the case.”
Ms Cox who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease back in 2018 previously told the Herald, “The process of seeking to obtain benefits has continually exacerbated my stress levels and anxiety.
“I have had to constantly fight to get the same entitlement to benefits as other people who are terminally ill. Despite being diagnosed with a terminal illness, I was refused fast track access to additional support and had to show that I was searching for work in order to receive universal credit.
“I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone. I believe the system has failed me and the approach to dealing with people who have a terminal illness needs urgently addressed. I have accepted my path in life now but please don’t put anyone else through it.”
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