THE Social Securty Agency (SSA) has sent a fitness-to-work form to UDA assault victim Paul McCauley who has been in a vegetative state since he was brutally assaulted in a sectarian attack in 2006.
Paul McAuley’s family said they were “disgusted” at the insensitivity of the SSA, who sent the letter just before Christmas.
Jim McCauley, his father, said: “In the majority of the questions we had to record that our son is in a permanent vegetative state. I tried to phone the department but I didn’t get through to anyone. I was later sent a second form and I assumed it was an error.”
In response the SSA stated: “Whilst the SSA is unable to comment on individual cases, it does acknowledge that asking family members to complete complex benefit forms on behalf of their ill relative can sometimes be both difficult and emotional.
“Incapacity benefit is being replaced by Employment Support Allowance and the 83,000 existing incapacity benefit claimants do not automatically receive the new benefit but are mandated by law to complete an application form if they wish apply for it.”
Just one person has been jailed for the vicious attack, which occured as Paul was clearing up after a barbecue in the Chapel Road area in 2006.
Daryl Proctor who was just 15 at the time was sentenced to 12 years in a young offenders centre in 2009.
The former Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) was clear at the time that the attack had been carried out by members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).
Several other people have been arrested by police investigating the attack but no-one else has ever been convicted.
Detectives are believed to be prioritising further arrests.
Last year Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch said he knows there are people from the Irish Street, Clooney, Lincoln Courts and Fountain communities who can identify Paul’s attackers.
The SSA letter to the McCauley family is the latest local controversy in relation to welfare reform. The Sentinel recently reported how ATOS healthcare was rejecting requests for home assessments even if a claimant’s GP supported one.
Asked “why Atos Healthcare can refuse a home visit for work capability assessments, even when a GP supports an application,” the Benefits Minister Nelson McCausland said Atos’ own health expert can disregard a GP’s opinion and demand claimants show up at local test centres.