THE mother of a severely-disabled Bradford teenager with a mental age of five is facing the prospect of a 12-month delay in receiving some of her benefits while an assessment is carried out to see if her daughter is fit to work.

Ellie McDonald, 19, of Leafield Grove, Eccleshill, is one of only 13 people in the world known to suffer from the rare genetic disorder Chromosome 7 Deletion.

She was born with a part of a chromosome missing and is living with one kidney, 70 per cent curvature of the spine and other conditions including a tethered spinal cord that has left her with bowel and bladder paralysis.

Her brain injury means she has to be sedated to sleep every night. She also cannot read or write.

Now she must undergo a medical assessment at home to prove she needs to receive the full amount of employment support allowance from the Department of Work and Pensions – a decision condemned as "absurd” by one Bradford MP.

After she left Hazelbeck School, Bingley, in July this year, Ellie’s mother Louise McDonald applied for employment support allowance for Ellie after the teenager left Hazelbeck School, Bingley, in July this year.

She filled out a form saying her daughter was unfit to work and her GP has also sent a ‘sick note outlining the severity of her disability.

The family receives £310 every four weeks for disability living allowance and £141 every fortnight for employment support allowance.

The wait for an assessment to be carried out means Ellie’s parents are missing out on £200 a month in the employment payment.


They say there is a six to 12-month backlog to wait for this assessment to take place.

Ellie will have to undergo a fresh medical assessment despite undergoing a similar check for her to receive unconditional disability living allowance.

Ellie attends a day centre run by the Home Farm Trust in Shipley three times a week, where she gets one-to-one care.

Miss McDonald said: “The system just does not work.

“It’s really, really frustrating. We are having to prove everything. The system is causing so much anxiety for people.

“Ellie can’t do any job. It’s such a shame that we have to fight for what we’re entitled to. I will keep going with this. We have to go through this for up to 12 months.

“Ellie relies on everybody for care. We have to wait and go through this procedure now but we want the procedure to change for others.

“There are so many people who are stopping applying for the benefit. It’s bizarre. There’s a massive, massive loophole.”

A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said: “In some cases, a work capability assessment (WCA) is not required to receive employment and support allowance (ESA).

“However, we require supporting medical evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist before we can process the claim.

“We have recently appointed a new provider to carry out WCA assessments, Maximus.

“No-one should doubt our commitment to ensuring that people who need an assessment get the best possible service and are seen in the quickest possible time.”

Constituency MP David Ward MP (Lib Dem, Bradford East) said: “It just seems absurd.

“It’s bureaucracy gone mad. It’s a ridiculous situation. At times the caring part seems to be missing.

“When people are losing money that they are entitled to, it’s a serious situation.”

Mark Nicholson, general manager at Bradford Disability Services Limited, said: “We support clients in the initial allowance application process.

“Medical assessments are becoming a lot more frequent than previously.

"This is the process that we go through with these things now.”