Published on Thursday 29 September 2011 14:29
BRIDLINGTON soldier Aron Shelton has won his year-long battle to get his disability benefit reinstated.
Former Private Aron, 27, of Redwood Close, had his monthly benefit slashed from £180 to £75 pounds after honestly admitting to the Department of Work and Pensions that he could walk 400m on his prosthetic limb.
This meant that Aron, who lost his leg in a bomb blast in Afghanistan in 2007, was stripped of his blue disabled badge and faced losing his motability car after a year’s grace period expired.
However, a year of campaigning ended last Thursday when a tribunal at Scarborough County Court ruled that Aron’s disability living allowance should be restored in full by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Aron celebrated the outcome with his fiancee, Callan Fowler, and said: “I am delighted with the decision.
“I got the impression that they had already made up their minds because the hearing only lasted a few minutes.
“It seemed like the lady from the DWP was fighting my corner as well and at the end of it, she basically apologised.
“I was blown away, it took my breath away.”
During the brief hearing, Daniella Luxford from the DWP advised the bench to reinstate the full allowance because there was “clear evidence” Aron was “virtually unable to walk”.
A judgement from the tribunal read: “The appellant is entitled to mobility component at the higher rate for an indefinite period because he is virtually unable to walk.
“The appellant’s quality and speed of walking are clearly compromised.
“The tribunal accepts that not only is he virtually unable to walk but that the effort needed to walk would also be likely to lead to a serious deterioration in his health.”
The new rate will come into effect immediately and means that Aron no longer has to worry about his car being taken off him. He is now looking towards training as a coach driver to support himself in the future.
He said: “It feels like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can now look forward to putting all this behind me and getting on with my life.
“I’m glad I fought the decision and not just sat on my bum and done nothing about it, because hopefully it will now help other soldiers in the same predicament as me
“I think it has opened a door and people will see what I went through and think ‘maybe I can win too’.”
Aron thanked the Royal British Legion who supported him in his campaign and also the Bridlington public, who raised thousands of pounds to help him.
“The support from the Bridlington people and other areas has been absolutely phenomenal,” he said.
“I want to say a huge, massive thank you to them.
“It just shows that there is support out there, if not from the government, then at least from the British public – I will never forget that.”
A spokeswoman for the Royal British Legion said: “We are delighted that a positive outcome has been reached for Aron Shelton with the help of The Royal British Legion.
“It is only right and proper that people like Aron, who have given so much for their country, should be given the utmost consideration and respect in return.
“The Royal British Legion is there to support all those who serve or have served in Afghanistan and their families for the rest of heir lives.”
The DWP said it was making changes to its system after it admitted that Aron should get his full allowance back.
A spokesperson said: “We owe the men and women who have served their country a huge debt of gratitude and cases like this illustrate why we are making changes to the way we assess eligibility to DLA.
“We are introducing a new, more objective assessment and regular reviews, to ensure the system is fairer and targets those most in need.”