WHEN John and Karen Kelly won just over £200'000 on the National Bingo, they thought it was the end to all their worries and they could retire to Majorca, just like they had always dreamed of.
Sadly, their move to their paradise island, just a few months after John was given six to nine months to live, back in June, has turned into a financial nightmare. The British government axed most of John's benefits and now, having sold their home in Edinburgh to raise the extra funds for their move to Majorca, they have no home in the UK to return to.
Karen explained yesterday that, having been regular visitors to Majorca for over 18 years, they decided to retire here for health reasons.
She said that John suffers from arthritis and, just a few months before they moved, he was diagnosed with the disease Mesothelioma, a lung cancer caused exlusively by exposure to asbestos and, according to medical experts, once diagnosed is fatal.
She said that they decided to carry on with the move as the weather would also help his breathing. They had been awarded a Disability Living Allowance, Industrial Injuries Benefits and she was given a Care Allowance by the Social Services.
However, once they arrived here and were settled, Karen informed the Social Services back home of their new address. But once they realised we had moved to Spain permanently, they froze all of our benefits. Karen and John appealed and eventually the Disability Living Allowance was back-dated but, despite taking the matter all the way to the tribunals, Social Services are refusing to pay John either his Industrial Injuries Benefits or the care Allowance. They are not exportable benefits we were told, she said yesterday and now there is nothing else we can do. We're having to live on half the money and it's not very easy. If I had not been honest and not told the Social Services, they would never have known and we would still be getting the money now as it is paid straight into a bank account which we have not changed, she added. However, she did admit that living in the sunshine in Santa Ponsa has had its benefits and, more importantly, those have been to John's health. Since moving here is arthritis has improved and his breathing has got easier... but after having paid in (to the system) for so many years when working, it's a disgrace we're not allowed to claim overseas, she added. We've been to Calvia Council, but they weren't much help and now we're trying to get John registered with the health service here, she said. All we're guilty of is trying to give John a better life and improve his health, and for that, we've been punished by them cutting his benefits, she said.
It was back in March when John was given six to nine months to live. If he and Karen get to enjoy the Majorcan spring together, perhaps, despite being let down by the British system, the move will prove to have been worth every penny the Social Services are refusing to pay them.