A Fintona mother has hit out at a “heartless” decision to reject a PIP (Personal Independence Payment) claim for her disabled teenage daughter.
Talhita Grace McClenahan, 17, who lives with her family outside Fintona, suffers from a number of health conditions and requires requires 24-hour care.
Recently, a PIP application, which is designed to help towards some of the extra costs arising from having a long-term health condition or disability, was rejected, much to the dismay of family members.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph on Monday, Talhitha’s mother, Deborah McClenahan, said she was “shocked and disgusted at a lack of compassion.”
“The decision-makers at PIP/DLA have decided that she does not qualify for any assistance,” she said. “Talitha has Down's Syndrome, Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, Spastic Quadriplegia, a right-sided Hemiparesis, a cardiac condition, is awaiting major spinal surgery for Scoliosis and has a feeding tube.
“When Talitha was small, they stopped her DLA and we had to fight to get it reinstated. At that time, it was awarded for life.”
Both Talitha’s Disablity Living Allowance (DLA) payments and Deborah’s carer’s allowance have been stopped, and the family learned last Friday that their PIP application had been rejected.
Speaking on the decision, local district councillor Bert Wilson has said the decision not to award PIP to the disabled Tyrone teenager is one of the most heartless decisions he has ever witnessed.
Cllr. Wilson said: “I visited the family today and what I observed was a family dedicated to the 24-hour care of the disabled teenager Talhita Grace McClenahan. In all my time in elected politics I have not came across a more deserving case for support that has been refused.
“I cannot understand the reasoning for this decision to refuse Personal Independence Support. The PIP leaflet states: ‘PIP has been designed to help towards some of the extra costs arising from having a long-term health condition or disability (ill health or disability that is expected to last 12 months or longer).’
“If ever there was a case that fits right into that category – This is it! This is a lovely young lady with a great smile that lightens up the room and is totally dependent on her family caring for her. There must be an urgent review in this particular case, but there also needs to be a much wider review of the Personal Independence Payment structure.
“There are major failings in the configuration of this benefit when people like Talhita Grace are turned down and rejected by the system.”