Cancer sufferer 'not sick enough' for support payments

A DARLINGTON-POINT man caring for his 73-year-old father who has been battling with bowel cancer for five years was told he was not eligible for carers' income support as his dad was "not sick enough".

INELIGIBLE: Ron Clarke Snr, who is battling with bowel cancer, with his son Ron Jnr, who is not eligible for carers' allowance because his dad is "too healthy".

INELIGIBLE: Ron Clarke Snr, who is battling with bowel cancer, with his son Ron Jnr, who is not eligible for carers' allowance because his dad is "too healthy".

Ron Clarke Jnr said his father, Ron Clarke Snr, had been ill since he had parts of his bowel removed due to cancer several years ago.

"Dad doesn't need care around the clock, he can dress himself and feed himself but there are times when he needs someone around," Mr Clarke Jnr said.

"Because of his condition, he gets in a really bad mindset and often doesn't want to get up, or cook or eat. If nobody is around ... he won't eat anything all day and goes to bed without tea. Without care things can easily go from bad to worse.

"And when dad has chemo it gives him really bad headaches. The headaches and medication also make him drowsy and he falls easily."

The 47-year-old contractor said he had to decline job offers to transfer trucks to Queensland because he was worried about leaving his father home alone.

"When I went to Centrelink to ask what help was available for us as a family, I was told to apply for a carer's pension or for carer's income support. Because Dad doesn't need help 24-hours-a day we applied for the carers' income support of $118.20 a fortnight."

But Mr Clarke said his application was rejected and he was told his dad was "not sick enough".

"I answered all the questions they asked me honestly and I was told Dad was too healthy.

"I was told because he can eat by himself and he doesn't suffer from depression they couldn't do anything.

"Unless he was at nursing-home level we're not eligible for a carers' allowance."

Mr Clarke Jnr said while he was getting paid a fuel allowance for taking his father to doctor's appointments, financial support was not readily available for those suffering from medical conditions or old age."You really wonder what you have to do and how bad a situation has to be if cancer isn't considered bad enough," Mr Clarke Jnr said.

According to the Australian Government's Human Services Department website carers are eligible for an allowance payment if they "provide additional daily care and attention for someone with a disability or medical condition, or who is frail aged" in either their own home or the home of the person they are caring for.

The story Cancer sufferer 'not sick enough' for support payments first appeared on The Observer.

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