Claiming mental health benefits 'hideous', says Norwich woman

A woman with bipolar II disorder says the process of claiming disability benefits for people with mental illness is "hideous".

Ann Barker has taken the government to tribunal four times after her applications for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and later, Personal Independence Payments (PIP), were refused. She has lost twice and won twice.

The 61-year-old from Norwich says the current guidelines are geared towards physical disability and fail to take into account the changeable nature some mental health problems can have.

"They were asking me if I could find a place of work with a sat-nav and I was saying on a bad day [when depressed], I can't leave my bedroom," she said.

She is urging people not to be afraid to challenge the initial decision if it goes against them.

Health assessments to decide if claimants are eligible for benefits are carried out by professionals who have the "right clinical experience" and appeals make up a small percentage of claims, the Department for Work and Pensions said.