Man suffering from severe brain disorder is told: Get a job

Darren Lee, 49, who has been unable to work for more than three years because he suffers from a crippling neurological condition - but he has had his benefits cut after being assessed 'fit for work' [Image: Steve Robards].

Darren Lee, 49, who has been unable to work for more than three years because he suffers from a crippling neurological condition – but he has had his benefits cut after being assessed ‘fit for work’ [Image: Steve Robards].

ESA assessors have set this man up to fail – I know because I have experience of the way employers treat people with similar conditions.

Some of you will know that This Writer suffers from cluster headaches (or as I like to describe the condition, ‘the migraine that comes back for more’).

It’s a rare disorder in which the victim suffers excruciating headaches, sometimes four or more of them per day, over a period lasting up to three months at a time.

Mine came on while I was working at a regional daily newspaper that limited the number of sick days a person could take to five per year (I was never sure whether that was legal or not).

While the deputy editor was sympathetic, the official line was harsh, and I was treated more as a shirker than a person with a serious health issue.

If I had known I was going to suffer with the condition when I was employed – and had made the situation clear at my job interview – I doubt I would ever have been asked to sign a contract.

That is what awaits Mr Lee – either rejection or persecution from prospective employers.

In his condition, the officials’ decision is a threat to what remains of his health.

A man suffering from a severe neurological disorder who has been unable to work for the past three years has now been told by benefits officials: Get a job.

Darren Lee, 49, was diagnosed with intracranial hypotension – which causes extreme pain, headaches, memory loss, chronic fatigue and dizziness – in 2013 and has been receiving a disability benefit since that date.

Now, officials have re-assessed his condition, deemed him ‘fit for work’ and have stopped his Employment Support Allowance of £125 a week. Instead he has been told to look for work while being placed on Jobseekers’ Allowance of £73 a week.

He said this week: “This is a cruel and unnecessary thing to do to anyone, much worse to someone who is ill.”

Darren, who suffers excruciating headaches which are exacerbated when he is in an upright position, said: “I can be bed-bound for up to four days at a time.” He takes strong painkillers regularly to try to control his symptoms.

Source: Man suffering from severe brain disorder is told: Get a job – Crawley Observer

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11 thoughts on “Man suffering from severe brain disorder is told: Get a job

  1. paulrutherford8

    One of my several medical conditions is chronic cluster headaches, which don’t ever go away.

    I have to take 960mg of verapamil a day to help control them [4 a day], immigran injections and oxygen to try and stop them when they break through the ‘verapamil barrier’. The side effect[s] of the verapamil may have contributed to the onset of all the dvt’s I’ve had… anyway, that’s another story!

    Cluster headaches aren’t headaches as most people understand them and are definitely a hell of a lot worse than migraines. It was my GP who told me to first apply for DLA after diagnosis was confirmed by a neurologist. I got that on appeal.

    This is another example of ‘decision-makers’ not having any understanding of how such a condition affects people. He can’t work imo.

    Have an attack, recover, have a few hours waiting fearfully for the next attack, have the attack, recover, have a few hours… it goes on and on and on.

    So… it appears that we have something else in common? Not just a mild dislike of tories!!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Yes, except I don’t have chronic cluster headaches and my last attack was several years ago.

    2. Florence

      Paul, of course you have a lot in common with Mike and many others involved in fighting the DWP. You have been vicitimised several times over by the bedroom tax, and the constant court battles, when the DWP have refused to accept the courts ruling in your favour. Your own illness of course makes it doubly difficult to cope with the pressure of having the weight of the DWP bearing down on you, especially now your MP is the one leading the DWP court appeals.

      I wish you not good luck in your current court battle, but instead for justice to be done, which is your right, and not a lottery.

  2. Joan Edington

    That’s the trouble with these assessors who have virtually no medical knowledge, let alone of conditions like this man. Basically, if you don’t LOOK sick you aren’t sick. A friend of my ex had something similar or maybe the same. I wasn’t close enough to him to know his exact condition. He would go for several weeks where he appeared fine then, with no notice, he had headaches and other facial pains that would leave him totally scuppered for days. I don’t know why the medical powers that be don’t hold the DWP to account.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      “He doesn’t look ill” is, of course, the mantra of the ignorant, who try to justify government policy by applying it to people whose health problem is not readily apparent. Plus of course they delude themselves that jobs are available widely, for people in any situation, including the bed-bound. Mrs Mike doesn’t look ill; fortunately medicine is able to provide a better diagnosis than that.

  3. Stu

    May I suggest that you highlight this man’s “Progress” through the system to highlight all the failings the DWP have in helping anyone who is less than capable?

    The DWP say they will help and support the disabled and have systems in place to ease them into employment – let them Prove it !
    An able bodied 49 year old struggles to find work let alone someone with an intermittent crippling condition,
    I know what he’s going through and don’t want to worry him about what’s facing him but if he kept a journal of his experience that you publish and send to the DWP, at least it highlights the unnecessary hurdles and stress that they put people through.

Comments are closed.