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Friday 23 February 2018

Mum who lost arm denied disability grant because she still has one healthy arm

Carol Haslam (38) is calling for an immediate review of the criteria which makes her ineligible for the grant to adapt her car, despite the fact she is an amputee
Carol Haslam (38) is calling for an immediate review of the criteria which makes her ineligible for the grant to adapt her car, despite the fact she is an amputee

Louise Walsh

A Meath mum who chose to amputate her arm due to cancer says she can't get a disability grant - because she still has one healthy arm.

Carol Haslam (38) is calling for an immediate review of the criteria which makes her ineligible for the grant to adapt her car, despite the fact she is an amputee.

The Ratoath resident says that the Primary Medical Certificate is only granted to people who have lost one or both legs or two arms.

Carol, who is wearing a prosthetic arm since last August, has used her own funds to buy a new car and a further €2,000 to adapt the steering wheel.

Obtaining the Primary Medical Certificate would have saved her the VAT and VRT on a new car or the VAT on the adapting an Irish-sourced vehicle.

Carol was due to get part of her hand amputated after developing a rare form of sarcoma last year - a cancer so rare that she has a better chance of winning the lottery.

However she chose to get most of her lower arm amputated to decrease the chance of the aggressive cancer returning and see her two children – Niamh (12) and Daniel (10) – grow up.

"Seriously, I can get the grant if I lose one leg, two legs or two arms but not one arm," she said.

"I'm not trying to be funny but how does that make sense?

"I'm basically being discriminated against because I'm a one upper limb only amputee.

In addition to having her arm amputated, Carol had to give up her 11-year old business as a florist.

"I had to give up my beloved job as a florist and then face the added expense of having to adapt a car myself, with no help.

"I don't want to be complaining and I wish I had no use for the grant but I do and it should apply to all amputees, regardless of what limb they lose.

"How can they do it for one and not the other?  That just beggars belief.

"The criteria, set down by Revenue in the 80s needs to be changed now.  Any decisions on the grant is based on these criteria."

Since her operation, Carol has been devoting her time to her two children and is getting ready to take Daniel on a cross-European trip before he loses his sight.

Daniel is losing his eyesight to genetic condition optical atrophy and Carol is doing all she can to help him achieve his bucket list of archaeological sites before he starts seeing shadows.

She said after facing the “evil” form of cancer which cost her her arm the regulations are another obstacle to face.

In a statement, the Department of Finance said it has no role in issuing primary medical certificates which is needed to qualify for exemptions under the disabled drivers scheme.

“The Scheme and qualifying criteria were designed specifically for those with severe physical disabilities and are, therefore, necessarily precise,” a spokesperson said.

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