Parkinson’s sufferer Susan Ward with her African Grey parrot Georgie.
Parkinson’s sufferer Susan Ward with her African Grey parrot Georgie.

60 and sick, but the govt has told her to get a job

A DEVASTATING stage-two Parkinson's diagnosis has been compounded for a Bundaberg woman after she was told by Centrelink to start looking for a job.

Parkinson’s sufferer Susan Ward: Parkinson’s sufferer Susan Ward

Susan Ward's disability pension claim has been denied despite the 60-year-old's neurologist telling her to give up work due to the progressive, degenerative neurological condition that affects the control of body movements.

Mrs Ward said being diagnosed 12 months ago was "devastating," but it gave her answers as to why she was struggling, having unknowingly had the disease for three years prior to diagnosis.

"It was something I didn't want to be diagnosed with, but it was a relief to have a reason for what I am going through," she said.

Mrs Ward was told by her neurologist to stop work immediately and that she would get the disability pension after being diagnosed with mixed akinetic tremor idiopathic Parkinson's disease.

"The neurologist said it is a permanent disability that progressively worsens, and I had to stop work straight away," she said.

"It is scary because I just keep thinking about what will happen down the track."

Despite Mrs Ward's neurologist explaining that it was a lifelong, incurable disease, Centrelink has denied her application.

"Centrelink said for them to consider a disability pension I would have to be on a settled medication, but it will be a continuous change of medications because I will get worse," she said.

"When a professional says it's a permanent disability what can you do, I would like nothing more than to be cured tomorrow and to go back to full-time work."

Mrs Ward said she had now appealed the denied application but Centrelink also chastised her for not attending an appointment, but she was never notified about it and would have been happy to go.

Classified as a falls risk and suffering constant tremors, Mrs Ward said the disease had negatively affected her life in so many ways.

"I have trouble getting regular sleep, a lack of energy, tiredness, I don't have the same physical ability I used to have, some nights I am awake most of the night," she said.

Mrs Ward said being approved for the disability pension would make a world of difference for her anxiety.

"Getting the disability pension would be a piece of mind about some of my future and would give me time to work on looking after myself so I can have a better quality of life," she said.

"Unfortunately, without the disability pension I will have to find work, and driving is difficult too, we just can't get by without the money and Ian (my husband) has just gone on the pension after a heart attack.

"I try to laugh my way through it, but it is hard."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Social Services yesterday said while it was unable to comment on individual cases, it sympathised with the difficult circumstances many Australians faced during an unexpected battle with illness.

"Eligibility for the Disability Support Pension is based on functional impairment and ability to work not on diagnosis or specific medical conditions alone," she said.

"When applying for DSP, the person must be assessed as being unable to work for 15 or more hours a week, for at least the next two years.

"Not all people with disability are eligible for DSP, as many people with disability are able to work.

"A person who has had a claim for DSP rejected in the past can reapply for DSP and provide updated medical evidence at any time, if they feel the severity of their impairment has increased," the spokeswoman said.