A CWMCARN man faces having his incapacity benefit stopped after being declared fit to work despite being registered blind and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Tony Harris, 51, of Tribute Avenue, was called for a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reassessment in November due to him claiming £199 every fortnight in incapacity benefit.

Mr Harris did so but was shocked to receive a letter this month telling him the department had given him a score of zero in all criteria, which means it is considered Mr Harris is fit to work.

His benefit will be stopped on December 29.

The letter from the DWP states it considers Mr Harris’ vision doesn’t prevent him from finding his way around familiar and unfamiliar places. It reads: “We have decided that you do not have limited capability for work.”

Mr Harris has been registered blind since he was 16 due to retinitis pigmentosa.

This hereditary condition has caused his sight to deteriorate during his adult life, and he has used a guide dog for the past nine years.

Mr Harris was also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the beginning of this year and is undergoing treatment.

He started claiming incapacity benefit in 2000 when he had to take medical retirement from his job with telecoms factory Nortel in Cwmcarn, a job he held for 21 years. He started claiming a works pension, which is less than £100 a week, but doesn’t claim any other benefit. His monthly costs include £120 on his mortgage, £90 on heating and £40 on council tax.

Since retiring, he retrained as a masseur but arthritis means he is unable to do the job. He said: “I just couldn’t believe it when I got the letter back and it said there was nothing wrong with me. I am going to struggle and haven’t been able to do my last bits of Christmas shopping.”

He is now appealing against the decision.

Government says it will help people into jobs

A DWP spokeswoman said the Government is committed to supporting more people with health conditions back in to work.

She said: “People who are found fit for work will now be supported through the new work programme which provides tailored support for people to get into sustained employment.

People who are found too sick or disabled to work will continue to receive unconditional support and a higher rate of benefit.”