Ex-RAF serviceman from Lincoln kept alive by portable machine has benefits stopped
An ex-serviceman who is always just moments from death has had his benefits axed as he awaits a new heart.
Alex Smith has been told he is fit to work – despite having to carry around a machine to keep himself alive.
His £420-a-month unemployment benefits have been suspended, leaving Mr Smith "financially crippled".
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney has vowed to take up his case with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
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Mr Smith, who lives in Arboretum Avenue, off Monks Road, with his partner Elaine, toured all over the world during his time as an RAF police dog handler. He suffered heart failure after a common cold and is waiting for a heart transplant. He is kept alive by a machine woven through his ribs to a pump in his heart which keeps his blood flowing at a constant speed.
A medical check-up concluded that he was ineligible to claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA). Mr Smith says the decision is nonsense.
"I feel like my integrity and honesty is being questioned. I did not want to claim benefits anyway but I did so out of necessity," he said.
"If my machine was to fail I would pass out within 15 seconds and I would die quite quickly. Going out to work physically drains me. After a day's work, I need to rest up completely for three days. I'm a physical wreck.
"At the assessment earlier this year, I explained my condition and machine and then that was it, they said I could go. A report said it was not accepted that I had limited capability to work."
A DWP spokesperson said: "Employment and Support Allowance assesses someone's capacity for work and looks at what a person can do because we know conditions affect different people in different ways. A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough face-to-face assessment and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence provided by the claimant.
"We have made considerable improvements to the Work Capability Assessment to make it fairer and more effective. If someone disagrees with the outcome of their claim, they have the right to submit new evidence and appeal."
Mr Smith is submitting an appeal against the ruling, during which he will receive the basic rate of ESA.