Cancer-hit Navy veteran ‘not disabled enough’ for DWP

Navy veteran Sammy Clark. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Navy veteran Sammy Clark. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A Royal Navy veteran suffering from cancer is fighting a battle to get his attendance allowance reinstated after the Department of Work and Pensions decided he was “not disabled enough” to receive help.

Sammy Clark, 72, a resident at Whitefoord House, the home for Scottish Veterans in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, who has lung cancer and has mobility problems said the first he knew the benefit had been stopped was when he went to the post office to collect his money last July.

He reapplied in January but yesterday received a letter saying he “did not meet the criteria” for the £145 weekly benefit.

Mr Clark is now launching an appeal helped by a support worker from the 82-bed facility.

The pensioner has undergone three operations at St John’s hospital in Livingston, West Lothian, as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the Western General hospital in Edinburgh. He is due to return to the Western General in June for more treatment.

He said the decision had angered consultants at the Western General and one said to him “it’s a damned scandal, it should never have stopped. You get that ‘til the day you die.”

Mr Clark, originally from Prestonpans, East Lothian, said: “I’ve worked all my days. I started in 1957 and never lost a day’s work. Then when something like this happens you think the government would try to support you.

“I was in the Western General for two stints of six days getting chemotherapy and also had radiotherapy twice a day for 12 days. I used the attendance allowance to help with taxis to the hospital sometimes and shopping. The doctors were always on at me to buy fresh fruit so I was doing that and buying some extra clothing to keep warm as I was all shivery after the treatment.”

“The professors treating me said my situation is just the same. The cancer is still there.”

Mr Clark served on the ‘Sulisker’ one of four Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency vessels operating around Scotland’s coasts apprehending vessels breaking the law.

A spokeswoman for Whitefoord House, established in 1910 to address the problem of veterans sleeping rough on the streets, said: “As a resident of SVR’s Whitefoord House Mr Clark is assisted by our support staff in many areas, including help with benefit applications.”

A spokesman for the DWP said; “People can receive Attendance Allowance if they are aged 65 or more and have a disability that is severe enough for them to need help caring for themselves or someone to supervise them, for their own or someone else’s safety. We will be in touch with Mr Clark regarding his claim to benefit.”