Benefit for twin – and veto for other

David and Emma Banks have been left bemused by a social services decision to award a disability allowance to one of their 10 month-old Downs Syndrome identical twins ' Arthur (right) but not Alfie (left).
David and Emma Banks have been left bemused by a social services decision to award a disability allowance to one of their 10 month-old Downs Syndrome identical twins ' Arthur (right) but not Alfie (left).
0
Have your say

The parents of two identical twins with Down’s Syndrome today criticised civil servants after one of their sons was granted disability benefits – and the other was refused.

Ten-month-old twins Arthur and Alfie Banks-Lowe were born just a minute apart. Both have exactly the same medical issues.

Yet, when mum and dad Emma and David applied for Disability Living Allowance to help with round the clock care they received an unexpected reply.

Arthur was accepted and Alfie refused.

“We couldn’t believe it,” Emma said. “The boys are identical in every detail, they have exactly the same health issues, they need exactly the same care, yet one can get the allowance and the other can’t.

“We’ve asked why, but so far we haven’t had a proper explanation other than the officer who assessed Alfie felt he didn’t require any more care than a normal 10-month-old child. Believe me, that’s nonsense.”

Arthur and Alfie, who have three older brothers, need daily physiotherapy to build their weakened muscles. They both have identical heart and lung issues and eye problems which all require frequent hospital visits.

The boys have monitors fitted at night time to assess their breathing and sensors have to be changed every five hours.

Emma, who lives in Thompson Street, Wesham, said: “It is worrying for other people applying for this allowance because it shouldn’t be a lottery who you get to deal with your case. Everyone should be assessed exactly the same.

“Two identical twins with identical problems shouldn’t be regarded as different. It’s ridiculous.”

She added: “We always seem to be at hospital appointments for check-ups and things and I don’t regard that as normal for a child of 10 months. Yet one civil servant seems to think it is.

“We had to put in two separate claims for Disability Living Allowance because they had to be treated as individuals, not identical twins.

“But if they had been treated as twins and their applications dealt with together then I’m sure they would both have got it.

“I’ve phoned the Disability Benefits Unit at Warbreck House (in Blackpool) and I’m still waiting for a full explanation. But, as things stand, we will be appealing.”

A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said that, while it was not possible to comment on specific cases, the claims would be checked to see if they had been assessed correctly.

The spokesman added: “Disability Living Allowance isn’t generally paid on the condition someone has, but because they have specific care and mobility needs.

“All young children have care and mobility needs, but parents can claim DLA for children who need a lot more help or supervision than other children of the same age.

“Anyone who disagrees with a decision can ask the Department to look at the case again, presenting any new evidence, or appeal.”

Follow us on twitter @The_Gazette and like our page on facebook to keep up with all the latest news.