A WOMAN who lost her leg in a horrific motorbike accident has been told she’s not entitled to disability benefits because she only returned from working abroad 18 months ago.
Kerry Waters, 29, a dental nurse, lost part of her right leg after losing control of her bike in Brays Lane, Canewdon.
Kerry, who lives with her mum, Lisa, in Alexandra Road, Ashingdon, is currently undergoing intense rehabilitation at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, to prepare her for wearing a prosthetic leg.
But she has now been told she does not qualify for disability allowance because she only came back from working in Australia 18 months ago.
Kerry said: “I’m so upset about this news. I have asked my nan, Angie, to write a letter to the local MP to try to get the rules changed.
“I have a lot going on at the moment. In a year’s time it will be a different story and I’ll have a job again, but right now I need some support. It seems when you need it most, the support is not there. I have always paid my taxes and worked hard, I can’t believe I don’t qualify.”
Kerry, who grew up in Ashingdon, applied for Personal Independence Payment, which replaced Disability Living Allowance from last year, but was told she had been declined because she had been in the country for less than two years.
She added: “You cannot choose when you are ill, can you? It is not like I wanted this to happen to me. I worked in Australia for two years and came back 18 months ago. I had no idea this meant I didn’t qualify for any support.
“I know lots of people who work abroad in Commonwealth countries like Australia, I doubt any of them realise this effectively prevents them from being ill and needing support when they return home.”
However, Kerry has not let the distressing news stop her on focusing on her rehab.
She said: “I have been going to the gym and doing cardio and weights to build my strength.
I’ve met a lot of amazing people here, including a lady who has lost both her legs and she walks – she has really inspired me.
“I have been told that I might need another operation to remove my kneecap because it is causing me pain to walk. But I am going to carry on and stay positive, what else can you do?”
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions, said: “The old DLA system was outdated, with the majority of claimants getting the benefit for life without systematic checks on their condition.
“Personal Independence Payment includes a face-to-face assessment and regular reviews to ensure support goes to those who need it most. It is funded from general taxation and does not depend on an individual's National Insurance contributions.
To be eligible someone needs to have been in the country for two years in the last three years.”