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Disabled woman 'humiliated' by health assessor


A DISABLED woman suffering from a degenerative disease who lost her benefits after government-appointed assessor Atos ruled she was fit to work has said: "I feel utterly humiliated."

Sally Stovell has chronic osteoarthritis and relies almost entirely on her wheelchair.

But the 50-year-old, from Nineacres Way in Coulsdon has been told she no longer qualifies for the financial support she uses to pay for food and hot water, after a medical assessment by Atos said her condition had improved.

Ms Stovell, who ran her own recruitment agency in central London until she was diagnosed in 2004, has been forced to go to the council asking for crisis money and vouchers to visit the Purley Foodbank.

"It is utterly humiliating," she said.

"I am a staunch Tory and support the cuts. However, the government has employed this company, Atos, who are not doing their job properly and taking away support from people who really need it.

"I live alone and if I did not have a few family members to help me my life would probably be in danger.

"Until I was made disabled, I put everything into the system. Now I am in need I am having everything taken away from me."

When Atos assessed Ms Stovell in October 2011, they rated her ability to work as seven, with 15 meaning the least able.

In May 2012 she was deemed unable to work after her condition deteriorated following major surgery.

However, in February this year, Atos reassessed her as qualifying for zero points.

They ruled she was as able to work as any person without a disability and stripped her of Employment Support Allowance.

"It means I now have nothing apart from £80 a month left to live on," said Ms Stovell, who was informed of the decision earlier this month.

"I receive Disability Living Allowance but most of it goes on my mobility scooter so I can get out of the house and fend for myself.

"It's truly heartbreaking. I am being made to feel like I have done something wrong by being disabled.

"I fully support the Government wheedling out those who cheat the system but I am clearly not one of those people."

As well as chronic osteoarthritis, Ms Stovell suffers from neuropathic pain and chronic clinical depression.

She said: "Does the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) think I would not work if I could?

"Sometimes my illness is so bad I can't do anything at all.

"Who is going to hire a 50-year-old disabled woman who cannot even guarantee when she can come into work?"

Ms Stovell claims the Atos assessor did not examine her during the session but referred to illnesses such as sciatica, which she does not have, in the report.

Croydon South MP Richard Ottaway has been involved in her case

Ms Stovell is also seeking legal advice.

"I am going to take this issue all the way to the top," she said.

Richard Ottaway said: "I am sorry Ms Stovell is experiencing so many difficulties."

After visiting Purley Jobcentre Plus, Ms Stovel is now receiving £310 per month until her appeal has been assessed.

Disabled woman 'humiliated' by health assessor

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