Scrap terminal illness six month rule, says Welsh Labour MP
Patients who are terminally ill should not spend their last months worrying about how they can pay for food and fuel bills, a Welsh MP has said.
Madeleine Moon's husband died from motor neurone disease, and she has called for a law on accessing benefits to be changed.
To qualify for special payments, a patient must be expected to die within six months.
She said they should be with loved ones rather than filling in forms.
If they are expected to die within six months people can apply under the Special Rules for Terminal Illness (SRTI).
The SRTI is a fast-track process that allows people living with terminal illness to access disability benefits more quickly.
Bridgend Labour MP Mrs Moon said the time limit penalises people who have a terminal illness, like Motor Neurone Disease (MND), where progression of the disease can vary significantly.
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Mrs Moon, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Motor Neurone Disease, is calling for the time limit to be removed for England and Wales, as has been proposed in Scotland.
"I've talked to people who are worried about losing their homes, worried about how they're going to pay fuel bills, how they're going to provide food," she said.
"It is a horrific worry because suddenly a future you had in front of you has disappeared.
"Inevitably you're not able to work, so money becomes a big issue. Most people are desperate to spend what time they have left with their families - you're not doing that if you're facing face-to-face assessments or filling in complex forms."
The MND Association said it agreed the UK government should follow Scotland's example.
A spokesperson said: "Scotland voted to remove the six month rule and replace it with a clinical judgment. This means that doctors and consultants who know their patients and understand their conditions can make a judgment about whether they are terminally ill, without worrying about an arbitrary six month requirement."
Mrs Moon said she will meet Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) ministers on Thursday to discuss the issue.
A DWP spokesperson said: "We're determined to ensure that people living with terminal illnesses get the support they need through this difficult time.
"People who are terminally ill can get their claim fast-tracked, automatic access to benefits and, for those claiming ESA [Employment and Support Allowance] or Universal Credit, have their work-related requirements waived."