Veterans 'facing unnecessary benefits assessments'

Media caption,
Veteran's 'traumatic' benefits experience

Welsh veterans are facing "unnecessary" face-to-face medical assessments to access benefits, a Labour MP has said.

The meetings decide whether claimants should get money, such as personal independence payments, or not.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it "deeply values" the welfare of serving personnel and veterans.

But critics argue the tests could cause problems for veterans, especially those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds believes the assessments are putting "unnecessary pressure" on former soldiers.

Image caption,
Nick Thomas-Symonds said too many armed forces veterans are subjected to "unnecessary face-to-face" assessments

The Labour MP told BBC One's Sunday Politics Wales programme: "Too many armed forces veterans are being subjected to unnecessary face-to-face medical assessments in order to access social security benefits such as Personal Independence Payments.

"They have served their country and deserve fairness.

"They should not be forced to attend assessment centres when this is not needed where they have already been seen before or have a firm diagnosis."

Image caption,
Lee Jones said he feared the medical assessments could trigger flashbacks

Lee Jones served with the Royal Green Jackets in Northern Ireland.

Mr Jones, who lives in Cwmbran, said: "If you don't turn up they stop the payments.

"Sometimes I think, 'is it really worth the hassle and the upset just to have some money in your pocket to pay your bills?'

"If a person is suffering from an illness it doesn't just go away. If you've got PTSD, that doesn't leave you."

Image source, PA
Image caption,
The Department for Work and Pensions said it spends more than £50 billion a year supporting people with health conditions

A DWP spokeswoman said: "We deeply value the welfare of our serving personnel and veterans, and we encourage anyone in need to take advantage of the range of support available.

"This includes our two 24 hour helplines which can provide advice on topics from mental health to housing and finances.

"We are also committed to ensuring disabled people get the right financial support."

Watch Sunday Politics Wales, 11:00 GMT, BBC One Wales, 28 October

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