Woman with epilepsy so severe she set herself on fire sees benefits removed

Pippa Hammond’s epilepsy is so severe that someone has to wait in the room with her every time she has a shower, goes to the toilet or even blow dries her hair. Her fits are unpredictable and can begin at any time, with scars up the backs of her legs illustrating this from when she dropped the hairdryer during a seizure. It burst into flames on the carpet as she lay on the ground, spreading flames across the floor and setting her on fire. All Pippa, 24, remembers is waking up in an ambulance in terrible pain, then spending two months in hospital being treated for third degree burns. That’s just one example of an injury she has sustained from her epilepsy. She can’t work or drive, and is dependent on her friends and family for her daily life. Despite this, she has been denied any disability benefit under the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme, with her application scored zero in every category.

Pippa, from Shrewsbury, was diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy in 2010, and was soon approved for disability benefit – a source of income which really helped the family since her mum had to give up work to care for her. She was getting £450 a month, enough to help her meet friends and get out of the house, which would be difficult otherwise as she lives in a rural area and can’t drive. So when she was scored zero on her PIP assessment and told she was therefore no longer eligible for any money, it was a surprise. ‘Nothing in my life has changed – if anything my condition has got worse with increased seizures,’ Pippa said. ‘Now losing this money had made my life very difficult now as that little bit of independence I have has been taken away completely. Her assessor judged her as capable of washing independently – even though she has to have someone in the room with her when she has a bath or a shower. ‘Basically if I don’t I could drown,’ Pippa told Metro.co.uk. ‘My seizures are unpredictable. They could be any minute of any day.’

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