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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Ali's benefits case is 'typical'
Geoff Adams-Spink
BBC News website disability affairs correspondent

Photo of Ali Abbas lying in hospital
Ali's plight moved people across the world
A leading charity says the problems encountered by a young Iraqi war victim who has tried to claim disability benefits are "typical".

Ali Abbas came to the UK two years ago after being injured when a missile destroyed his home in Baghdad.

He was told his claim for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) could not be backdated to October last year because his disability could not be proved.

Charity Scope said the case was "all too typical" of the benefits system.

Ali - who is now 14 and lives in London - applied for DLA in October, but received a letter earlier this month saying he would only be entitled to the benefit from March this year.

The Limbless Association arranged Ali's treatment and its chairman Zafar Khan said conditions on his disability had not been satisfied for the period prior to March this year.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it could not comment on individual cases.

'Matter of urgency'

But a DWP spokesperson said Ali's case would be looked into "as a matter of urgency". Mr Khan also claimed paperwork relating to the case has been mislaid.

He said: "It's appalling the way he's been treated.

"I'm wondering how many other people like Ali are suffering through this incompetence and negligence."

I'm wondering how many other people like Ali are suffering through this incompetence and negligence
Zafar Khan
Limbless Association

According to Scope, disabled people often encounter "hideous bureaucracy" when applying for DLA.

Scope's campaigns officer Andrew Crooks said: "Ali's case is all too typical of the kind of red tape facing disabled people when they try to claim what is their statutory right." Mr Crooks said people needed better support to fill in the fairly lengthy application forms.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that DLA is made up of two components - one for personal care and the other for mobility.

Mr Crooks said some people had applied for the care component when their condition has deteriorated, only to find they had lost their mobility component during the review process.

"Thousands of people are not applying for the care component for fear of having their payments reduced," he said.

'Inhuman system'

Scope believes the system could be streamlined by involving GPs in determining someone's eligibility for DLA.

The charity's concerns are echoed by campaign group, Disability Awareness in Action, whose director Rachel Hurst said: "It's a fairly inhuman system.

"I'm glad Ali's now has his DLA because, to be perfectly honest, he's lucky to have got it at all."

Maimed Ali's story told in book
29 Mar 04 |  Middle East
New arms for orphan Ali
13 Oct 03 |  UK
Injured Ali leaves intensive care
15 May 03 |  Middle East


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