A FORMER soldier who was left disabled after an attack in 2011 has been told he is “fit for work” despite being in constant pain.
Steven McDonagh (37), who served with the Black Watch in Iraq in 2004/05, shattered both feet after he leapt from a balcony whilst attempting to escape from a flat in Kirkcaldy’s Hill Street.
He spent nearly three weeks in hospital and had pins inserted into both feet.
Now he has been told by Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) that his injuries are not severe enough to stop him finding work, even though most days he struggles to get out of bed.
He said: “Dealing with the ESA is like banging your head off a wall”
Mr McDonagh’s troubles began when he and a friend went to the Hill Street flat in June 2011. “It was a set-up,” he said.
“I was beaten up and when I tried to get out I had the acccident.”
After leaving hospital Mr McDonagh, who had been working as a head chef, moved in with a friend whom he met while volunteering at Whytescauseway Baptist Church.
He is now living in a flat in Nicol Drive, Burntisland, and says it’s a constant struggle to get out.
He said: “I want to work but I can’t think of anywhere that would take me on. I’ve got another operation in a couple of weeks for one thing.
“If I walk a lot one day it takes me two days to recover. Some days I need the wheelchair - on a bad day I can’t get up.
“I was receiving £90 a week in benefit, then I took a medical which said I was eligible to work and now I have had it cut to £66.”
An appeal against the ESA’s decision was rejected and now he plans to see a solicitor.
“I’m not saying I should be a special case as there are people worse off than I am.
‘‘But up until the accident I’d always worked and I’d served my country.
‘‘After I was attacked I didn’t expect life was going to be this hard.
“There is such a lack of communication, you can wait up to six weeks for an answer from the ESA, it’s very frustrating.”
A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We owe the men and women who have served their country a huge debt of gratitude and will do everything we can to help them to find work and make sure they get all the benefits they are entitled to.
If someone disagrees with the outcome of their Work Capability Assessment, they have the right to appeal.”