Mum fuming after disability allowance turned down

Mum fuming after disability allowance turned down

An Auckland mum is fuming after finding out why her application for a disability allowance for her ill daughter was turned down a year ago.

Jacine Greaves says she was told by WINZ only recently that it was because they'd lost some of her documents.

Ms Greaves made two applications for her daughter, who has acute leukaemia. The first -- a child disability allowance -- is paid as recognition that a child is going to need extra care. A maximum of $46.49 a week is paid out and Ms Greaves had that approved. 

She also applied for a disability allowance, which covers specific costs like hospital visits, medicines and the travel involved in that. It can provide a family up to $61.69 each week.

But the Greaves' application for that was turned down and Ms Greaves says she was only told recently that the reason was simply that WINZ lost some of her documents.

Chemotherapy pills have overtaken basics like bread and milk as top priority in the Greaves' household. 

Eight-year-old Josephine has leukaemia -- an acute blood cancer.

For Ms Greaves, the desperate fight to find the money to nurse her daughter back to health is sometimes overwhelming.

"I believe she should get everything that she's entitled to. Even just the thought of it makes me want to cry. We've been struggling so much and if they just approved it or granted it, we wouldn't be struggling this much," she says.

The first time Ms Greaves applied for a disability allowance she had to provide documents like proof of power bills, frequency and cost of treatment for Josephine and prescription printouts. All that took time and cost her around $75.

 "For us we don't see it as $75; we see it as food, nappies, milk, bread, butter, meat to feed all of our children for one day. I know it doesn't seem a lot to some people but it's a lot to people like us."

But Ms Greaves says Work and Income told her recently it no longer had the documents and for her application to proceed she'd have to get them all over again. 

She turned to a poverty action group for support. Alastair Russell says it's one of many examples where social services treat applications as files rather than families. 

"Work and Income have a culture of not telling people what they're entitled to, and you only get what you ask for, and people don't know what they don't know."