UK-Based Benefit Support for those with Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM)

In this blog we cover the financial burden that a chronic condition such as myelopathy can bring.

This week we speak to Shirley Widdop, an ex-Nurse that had to give up employment after being diagnosed with Cervical Myelopathy in 2012. Shirley is a very active member and an admin for Facebook support group, Myelopathy Support, and has assisted a number of members that have found themselves in the same situation and helped them through the tangled web of the UK benefits system.

Shirley explains that living with DCM is life altering in many ways. A major concern for people that have been diagnosed with myelopathy or any similar chronic condition, is that not only do you have to deal with the challenges of living with chronic illness & disability, but you also have to look at the financial implications that it also brings.

When diagnosed, I was working part-time as a Home Help. However, it became physically impossible due to pain, fatigue & deterioration in symptoms.
I received Statutory Sick Pay, but, eventually, was obliged to apply for Employment Support Allowance (ESA). I was placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) after surgery, even though I was still recovering & the DCM had not resolved.

I was unaware I was entitled to anything else until informed by a concerned employment advisor about eligibility for the ESA Support Group and also Disability Living Allowance (DLA) (now known as Personal Independence Payment – PIP).

Both applications were denied by the Department of Work & Pensions, but, thankfully, I won on appeal. Being awarded DLA enabled access to other financial support of which I was also unaware.

Consequently, sharing such information is my passion. Dealing with DCM is difficult enough without worrying about finances. And because of this we are now putting together a benefit information section that can be found under the support section at

But we need your help. Despite being a very cosmopolitan group, benefit information for our international members is sadly lacking. Please help us to rectify this so all our members have access to the financial support they need. Thank you.

Disability Benefits / Advice UK

Information kindly collated and presented by Shirley Widdop on February 2018.


Although Myelopathy Support aims to be a reliable source of information, we cannot accept any responsibility for the information provided. We also do not assume any responsibility for the use or content of any product or service
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  1. I have just found this site after being diagnosed over 4 years ago. To be honest I am crying writing this message, after watching the video, its the first time I have heard people describing how I feel. Will definitely be joining this group. Big thank you to all of you that have put this together.

    • I’m please you find us helpful. Glad to have you aboard, Dawn. We get it like no-one else can because we are living it every day.

      Best Wishes


    • Hiya . After returning to Birmingham 5 years ago to return to work, I developed a real problem with my right shoulder and arm (I’m also right handed) . After various tests this was deemed to be Brachial neuritis! Very painful!
      After trying to contact the hospital with the help of various support workers for probably three years (ish). Eventually I was taken to a hospital in an ambulance with pains across my chest!
      The staff at this hospital were unhappy with the time and lack of information I had received. I believe this had an impact and I soon started to receive information and more tests and X-rays .
      It transpires that I actually have degenerative cervical myelopathy.
      I am 47 years old and I really am having a tough time with this.
      Surgery is looming with 2 vertibae to be removed. Thanks for listening.

      • Hi Neil
        I have been experiencing similar pain. Although Left shoulder and a left hander.
        I am still in the ‘system awaiting a diagnosis’ I am also struggling.
        Have you made any headway with pain yet

  2. I had Surgery for Spondylotic cervical myelopathy 2 years ago.
    Unfortunately due to the complications and time in Surgery, the Surgeon could not do my C7 which is now touching the Spinal cord and causing an array of problems. Neuralgia in the right side of my face. Tremor in my right arm and pain in my lumbar and lower back and right leg. I also feel like I am being stung in my feet at night. The Surgeon won’t go back inland do the C7 section as this would unbalance my head. As I have cages in C4,5 and 6. I know that I am deteriorating, and worry about this leaving me paramedic. Sorry to run on. I am so pleased to find a Group that understands this.Thankyou so much Shirley

  3. Hello.
    Carnt beleive I’ve found your groupe this describes my symptons to having had majour car crash 4 years ago resulting in vertibral destruction I was told I would heal with time but it has resulted in clumsy hands pain and balance issues I am unable to work so starting new claim for pip as I write this hoping for better medical help thank you .

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