A woman who is house-bound with a flesh-eating disease and cannot tolerate sunlight says her disability benefit has been cut – after she was deemed fit to work.
CeaJay Clem claims her Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was cut this month following an assessment.
The 59-year-old says she has received the benefit after being diagnosed with Discoid Lupus Erythematosus – a form of skin rash made worse by sunlight in 2002.
The condition means CeaJay cannot go outside for more than 15 minutes at a time without her skin burning – even when wearing protective clothing and factor 50 sun cream.
Although she has worked from home as an artist since her diagnosis, she has now been told to sign on for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA).
But unable to leave her house in Bristol during the day or complete the 45-minute journey on public transport to the Job Centre in Kingswood, CeaJay has pleaded with assessors to reinstate her ESA.
The 59-year-old says she cannot go outside for more than 15 to 20 minutes
Without it, she currently has no income and fears she may be forced to move out if she cannot pay her rent on time.
She said: ””I had an ESA assessment on January 19.
“It’s all to do with the Government reforming the benefits system. I went along, did some tests and that was it.
”They asked me questions like if I could walk or fill a kettle, which I can, and they decided I was fit for work.
“The assessors didn’t refer to my Lupus at all, even though I live at home with sun-block curtains and don’t go outside. I can’t go out during daylight hours without putting total sunblock on.
“I can only stand 15-20 minutes, but my condition was dismissed as ‘I do not like to go outside because of my skin problem’.
“It’s a joke. The whole assessment is geared towards physical activity and if you can make a cup of tea then you must be motivated and therefore you can work.”
CeaJay plans to appeal the decision but claims the process can take up to six months.
A letter sent to CeaJay by the DWP which states she is fit to work in some capacity
She added: “My ESA stopped on February 1. I can now appeal but it might take up to six months and in the mean time, I have to sign on else I’ll have no money.
“But the Job Centre is 45 minutes away and I need a private darkened room.I cannot cope. Unless they give me my ESA back, I will lose my house.”
A letter which was sent to CeaJay by the DWP stated: “Your work capability assessment shows that although you may have an illness, health condition or disability, you are now capable of doing some work.
“We realise this may not be the same type of work you have done before. We can help you identify types of work you can do, taking into consideration any illness, health condition or disability you may have.”