THOUSANDS of cancer patients wait for six months or more for disability benefits, new research has revealed.
Halton MP Derek Twigg today pledged to support Macmillan Cancer Support secure quicker financial settlements for cancer victims.
He attended the launch of the charity’s new research report, Waiting to Benefit, into disability benefit personal independence payment (PIP) at the Houses of Parliament.
Mr Twigg said: “This is a matter that I have raised in Parliament and I was not surprised to hear about these results which mean that many cancer patients are finding that their finances are an additional burden when they are so concerned about their health.
“A number of constituents have contacted me because they have been facing delays and it is vitally important that they receive their money at a time when they need it most.
“The PIP assessment process should take no more than 11 weeks and I would like to know what the Government is doing to reduce the delays and how long it will take to get the processing times down, so that my constituents receive their benefits in a timely manner.
“It is vitally important that the DWP is transparent in this matter so that people affected by cancer and other disabilities know what to expect when they make a claim for benefit.”
Under the previous system the average time taken to receive a decision about Disability Living Allowance took 11 weeks.
Now the process is taking far longer with cancer patients waiting an average of 19 weeks without receiving any decision.
The research reveals that a quarter of those who have started their claim wait at least six months for the initial assessment. These delays are in addition to a three-month wait cancer patients face before they are eligible to apply for PIP.
Nearly half of all cancer patients surveyed were dissatisfied with the overall process.
A third said this was because of the lengthy delays and almost a quarter blamed poor communication from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
Some cancer patients found the PIP claims process and interaction with DWP so difficult, upsetting or time consuming that 2 per c ent stopped their claims entirely.
For financial support, cancer patients are encouraged to visit macmillan.org.uk/financialsupport to find your nearest benefits adviser or call free on 0808 808 00 00.