Disabled lad told to prove he can't work to
get incapacity benefits
Dad disgusted at son's treatment
By BELLA BATTLE
Published: 21st September 2012
A DAD was disgusted after his
severely disabled son was told to
prove he couldn’t work - in order
to receive benefits.
Liam Barker has been on life support
since he was born paralysed.
Liam, who was not expected to live past
three months, defied his prognosis and
celebrated his 18th birthday in
December last year, despite being born
with a rare and terminal muscle-wasting
He needs a ventilator to breathe and
constant care from his parents Phil, 52,
and Michelle Barker, 44,
Two weeks ago, Mrs Barker, who also
has daughter Britney, 12, discovered
that Liam‟s child benefit payments had
The family, from Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, were shocked to receive a letter telling them Liam would be
entitled to employment and support allowance but that he may need to attend a „WorkFocus interview‟ to
Mr Barker said: “I discovered the letter last week. We‟d been on a week‟s respite and it was there when we
“My wife looked at her bank account two weeks ago and found that Liam‟s child benefits had been stopped.
“This letter said that instead he could get employment support, but that he might have to attend an
interview to prove he couldn‟t work.
“I rang Stockton Benefit Centre and a woman on the phone asked me: 'Can he work?'
“I tried to explain his medical condition and she just said: „It‟s a yes or no answer, it‟s a standard issue
“I said my son couldn‟t work. She said he may need an interview and medical assessment.
“I explained there was no way he could come to an interview because the only appointments he has are at
the hospital - Liam can blink and that‟s it.
“We‟re still waiting on news on what we‟re supposed to do now.
“I don‟t think they really understand the situation and if they‟d just looked into his National Insurance
number or looked into his records properly they would realise he can‟t work.”
The Department of Work and Pensions says candidates found to be incapable of work receive long-term
A spokesman for the DWP said: “Often as a child gets older their needs change over time.
“The Work Capability Assessment looks at what a person can do, not only on what they cannot.
“If someone is not capable of any work, then they will of course get long-term incapacity support through
the benefits system.”