Amputee told to ‘get a job’ wins battle
AN AMPUTEE told by the Federal Government that losing his right arm and suffering a brain injury was a "moderate impairment'' and he should get a job has won a two-year battle for a disability pension.
Doug Stubbs, from Collingwood Park southwest of Brisbane, lost his dominant arm and suffered horrific injuries when he had a stroke while riding his motorbike and crashed into a truck in 2015.
With mounting bills and facing a series of surgical and specialist procedures, he applied for a disability pension.
However, as revealed by The Courier-Mail in February, he was shocked when told he wasn't disabled enough.
The Department of Human Services accepted he had permanent conditions, including a right arm amputation, Acquired Brain Injury, Deep Vein Thrombosis, and multiple fractures, but believed the 55-year-old former transport operator could work at least 15 hours a week in a sedentary role.
A department officer suggested he get a job in which he used his remaining hand to perform activities "like turning the pages of a book, using a pen or keyboard, or carrying most objects''.
The story sparked outrage, an appearance on Channel 10 talk show, The Project, and offers of support, including from legal firm Maurice Blackburn, which represented him through the appeals process for free.
Mr Stubbs said that after numerous applications and appeals, he finally had been granted a Disability Support Pension (DSP).
"I don't feel much in the way of relief,'' he said. "It's very hard to describe the amount of stress, mainly on my wife Sue, who has had to bear it all.''
Mr Stubbs said the long-awaited outcome was testament to Sue's tenacity and the fact they believed that after all the years of working and paying taxes, they were entitled to the support.
"I believe the Government is portraying many perfectly honest Australians as welfare cheats and it's just not right. It's a very inefficient system,'' he said.
"My message is that the Government should be serving us, not us being forced to serve it. We need to create a national community where we care for one another, especially those in the most need."
Mr Stubbs said the most ridiculous part of his case was the department referring to losing a right arm as only a moderate impairment.
"That just shows how little they understand about the reality of situations," he said.
His latest DSP application was officially granted on October 17 and will be backdated to March this year.
The DSP maximum basic rate is $814 a fortnight while the unemployment benefit (Newstart) is about $486 a fortnight.