Northamptonshire amnesia sufferer whose brain ‘deletes’ information every night told she does not qualify for benefit

Nikki Pegram with her notepad that helps her remember what she has done since her accident. The mother-of-one has recently had her PIP payments withdrawn despite having severe amnesia, and is struggling to undestand why.
Nikki Pegram with her notepad that helps her remember what she has done since her accident. The mother-of-one has recently had her PIP payments withdrawn despite having severe amnesia, and is struggling to undestand why.
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A Northamptonshire mum who wakes up every day thinking it is October 15, 2014, says she is at risk of losing her house after being stripped of a vital benefit payment.

Amnesia sufferer Nikki Pegram woke up today, as she does every day, believing it is October 15, 2014 – the day she hit her head on a metal pole following a routine operation on her knee at Kettering General Hospital.

The 28-year-old former pub manager from Wellingborough also has long suffered from osteo-arthritis, chronic pain and the rare condition Ehlers-Danlof syndrome which means she is prone to dislocating joints.

But despite having received Personal Independent Payments (PIP) of £200 a fortnight before, they have now been stopped as she did not score enough “points” on a recent assessment of her condition, even though she now has to battle severe amnesia on top of her long standing ailments.

Now Nikki says herself, her partner Chris Johnston and their five-year-old son have very little to live on.

She said: “There’s a good chance it is going to end up with us losing our house and not having anywhere to live.”

The PIP test asks a potential claimant several questions about mobility, such as whether they need help preparing meals, getting out of the bath and walking. It also asks how well the claimant can communicate and manage a budget.

Nikki was told she did not score enough points to quality for PIP, though she says her life has become an uphill battle since her accident in October last year.

She has to consult a diary every morning which reminds her what date it is.

She has no memory of her son’s first day at school last week, but she also has no recollection of major events that have taken place in the past year such as the birth of the royal baby Charlotte, or the fact we now have a Conservative government.

Nikki and Chris, a park keeper in Wellingborough, receive employment support allowance of around £70 a week.

But Nikki says she cannot work even though she wants to.

“My former job was as a bar manager, how would I be able to go back into that?” She said.

“If I barred someone one day, the next day I would have no idea who they were.

“If I got a new job, every day I would need retraining.

“Effectively every time I go to sleep my brain just presses delete and wipes everything.”

The couple have been told they can appeal the PIP decision and Chris says he intends to on his partner’s behalf.

Doctors have told Nikki her condition may improve, but it is not certain.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said in response: “Personal independence payment is awarded on the basis of how someone’s condition affects them rather than simply on the condition itself.

“Decisions are made after consideration of all the evidence, including an assessment and any information provided by the claimant and their GP.”