BIG ISSUE NATIONAL VENDOR WEEK
LEARN MORE
Social Justice

Amputee pensioner refused higher rate of disability benefit by DWP: 'I couldn't understand it'

As The Big Issue continues to shine a light on the disability benefits system, a claimant shares his experience of turmoil with the Department for Work and Pensions

Ian Meldrum

Ian Meldrum, who had his leg amputated after an accident on a building site. Image: Supplied

The Big Issue is shining a light on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) disability benefits system. Ian Meldrum switched from the disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payment (PIP). But after an amputation above the knee, he was refused the higher rate for mobility because he is over state pension age.

I had an accident on a building site in 1976. I was working as a painter and decorator and part of the house next door collapsed as I was walking past. I broke my legs, both arms and neck and it left me disabled for life. 

My leg turned septic. It took me 10 months to even look at it. I had a choice to keep the leg in plaster for six years and walk with an orthopaedic shoe or have it amputated below the knee – and I decided that was the option for me. 

I did not know financial support existed for more than 20 years. I was working as a taxi driver, having had to give up my work, and I was driving a woman who was also an amputee. She told me that there was support I should be getting from the DWP. I was getting nothing. So I applied and was awarded the the disability benefit DLA. 

Just over five years ago I was suffering severe pain on my stump and it had gone septic again. I had to have a second amputation above the knee.

Having faced an industrial accident, I was getting the industrial injuries disablement benefit – and that jumped from £80 a month to around £600 a month after I had the second amputation. 

Problems started when I was made aware DLA was being replaced with PIP. I filled in forms to apply for PIP, naively assuming it would be a similar process. But after I had gone through the assessment, they put me on the basic level. 

I just could not understand it. I went through a mandatory reconsideration and my daily living component was increased. That meant I was receiving slightly more on PIP than I was on DLA, but it’s just a pound more and with the cost of living going up so much that’s not enough.

It also meant that I lost my mobility car, which I relied on to be able to get around.

I’d been on the full rate of the mobility element of DLA with the below-the-knee amputation, but the PIP assessor seemed to think I was better off with my amputation now being above the knee. I just don’t know where it’s coming from. I know they are different benefits with different criteria, but I can’t understand why I wouldn’t be on the higher rate for mobility.

Maybe the DWP somehow thinks I’m better off with 14 inches less on my leg. I honestly expected them to carry on with the same with the full rate. Perhaps I was naive. 



I have tried time and time again to appeal to them that I am so much worse off with my leg amputated above the knee. I am desperate and I don’t know where else to turn. It is just absolutely shocking.

I tried nearly everything to get them to get back to the highest rate. I tried to appeal the DWP’s decision. Nothing is working. I’m 72 now and getting slower.

I’ve found out now, through The Big Issue contacting the DWP, that I can’t have the mobility element of my PIP changed because I’m over state pension age. They assume that everyone gets less mobile when they get older and lump us in the same boat. But I’ve had an amputation.

I’ve was advised to apply for the adult disability payment because I’m based in Aberdeen, Scotland, with the hope that they will be more sympathetic.

I had to give up my work as a taxi driver, which I’d done ever since the accident, after the second amputation. I was making a very good living as a taxi driver. Once I’d lost my leg completely, that was it. It was just gone. 

It’s been very stressful. I’ve had to be put on medication for my mental health. It’s so bad I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. It really gets me down.

Get help if you are struggling. Call Samaritans for free on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or visit samaritans.org for useful resources and advice on coping during this difficult time.

Response from the DWP

A spokesperson for the DWP said: “Our disability assessors are all qualified health professionals and our decision on Mr Meldrum’s award was upheld by an independent tribunal.”

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more

National Vendor Week 2024

A celebration of people who are working their way out of poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Every damning detail from ex-border inspector's reports the Home Office didn't want you to see
David Neal's reports are damning for the Home Office
Immigration

Every damning detail from ex-border inspector's reports the Home Office didn't want you to see

Rwanda asylum plan could cost taxpayer more than £500m. Here's how that could be much better spent
Rishi Sunak and James Cleverly have been trying to get the Rwanda scheme off the ground
A modest proposal

Rwanda asylum plan could cost taxpayer more than £500m. Here's how that could be much better spent

Sarah Everard inquiry: Cops accused of violence against women must be suspended, government told
sarah everard vigil
Social justice

Sarah Everard inquiry: Cops accused of violence against women must be suspended, government told

50,000 asylum seekers trapped in 'never-ending limbo' by Home Office, think tank says
Immigration

50,000 asylum seekers trapped in 'never-ending limbo' by Home Office, think tank says

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Here's when UK households to start receiving last cost of living payments
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Here's when UK households to start receiving last cost of living payments

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know