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Case Studies » Sickness » 2014/05 - Specified Disability: Learning Disability


Specified Disability: Learning Disability

Background: The appellant, aged 22 years, has a diagnosis of Learning Disability.  Evidence on file indicated that she was the victim of domestic violence as a young child and sustained significant head injury.  In completing the ability/disability profile, her G.P. assessed her as follows:

  • Mental health/Behaviour – affected to a moderate degree
  • Learning/Intelligence – affected to a moderate degree
  • Vision – affected to a moderate degree
  • Balance/Co-ordination – affected to a mild degree
  • Manual Dexterity – affected to a mild degree
  • Lifting/Carrying – affected to a mild degree
  • Bending/Kneeling/Squatting – affected to a mild degree

The G.P. stated also that the appellant was awaiting an appointment with the Adult Learning Disability Services and was currently attending a course to improve self-confidence and socialising skills.  In the appeal submission, the appellant’s father requested more time to provide medical evidence.  Reference was made to a neurological assessment which was to be carried out and which, it was suggested, would give a clearer picture of how the appellant struggles with everyday tasks.  A letter was issued by the Social Welfare Appeals Office, requesting a copy of this report but no response was received.  Accordingly, the Appeals Officer decided to hold an oral hearing.

Oral hearing: The appellant attended with her father.  Having outlined the decision under appeal, the Appeals Officer noted that further medical evidence was to have been submitted and that a written request for that evidence had met with no response.  The appellant’s father apologised, and said that the appellant was not in a position to deal with paperwork herself and that he had intended to reply.  He reported that he was in receipt of Disability Allowance himself, suffering with depression, and that he had overlooked the need to follow up on correspondence.  He went on to say that he was very keen to have matters resolved on his daughter’s behalf and he pointed out that the opportunities available to her required that she be in receipt of Disability Allowance.  He cited the support provided by the National Learning Network and the employer names he had been given, where employment was provided for people with disabilities – provided they were in receipt of Disability Allowance.

The appellant’s father referred to the trauma and head injury she had sustained as a young child and he outlined the background to his request to secure custody and his experience as a lone parent.  He said that the appellant had attended mainstream schools, receiving learning support all the way along.  He reported that she had attended a number of courses run by the National Learning Network and that she had been allowed to participate and receive an allowance, as though she were in receipt of Disability Allowance.  He said that he hoped that his daughter could obtain employment ultimately, perhaps on a part-time basis initially, with a view to becoming more independent. 

The appellant said that she had done a course in animal care for two years, followed by one in crafts.  She reported having nothing to do at the moment, and said she watches television and spends time with her dogs.  Her father referred to the friends she had made through the social club established by the National Learning Network, and to events and outings that they attend.  The appellant agreed that she enjoyed spending time with her friends.

Comment/Conclusion: In the absence of the additional medical evidence referred to in the appeal submission, it was decided that an oral hearing would be helpful in this case.  Having had an opportunity to meet the appellant, and having heard her father’s account of the difficulties she encounters on a day-to-day basis and the support she requires, the Appeals Officer had no doubt that the appellant should be regarded as meeting the qualifying criteria for receipt of Disability Allowance.

Decision of the Appeals Officer: The appeal is allowed.

Decision reason(s): Having carefully examined the evidence in this case, including the details presented by the appellant and her father at the oral hearing, I have concluded that she meets the medical qualifying condition for receipt of Disability Allowance and the appeal succeeds.