Case Studies » Sickness » 2014/09 - Specified Disability: Knee Injury following road traffic accident
Specified Disability: Knee Injury following road traffic accident
Background: The appellant, a 32 year old single man, had been in receipt of Disability Allowance until a date in 2013, when his claim was disallowed. His incapacity resulted from injury sustained in a road traffic accident in 2007. The medical evidence indicated that he had a stiff right knee and that this was expected to continue indefinitely. In completing the assessment of his functional abilities, the appellant’s G.P. assessed six of the eight categories as normal, one as mild and one as moderate; of the physical abilities, he assessed one category as normal, one as moderate and six as severe. He had last been seen by a Medical Assessor for the Department of Social Protection in 2007. Following disallowance of his Disability Allowance claim, the appellant was in receipt of a basic income payment under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme.
Oral hearing: The appellant was unaccompanied at the hearing. He advised that he had worked as a cleaning supervisor for a large cleaning company until 2006, when he was laid off and had made a claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance. He referred to the road traffic accident in 2007 in which he had sustained a knee injury and which had resulted in the death of another passenger. He stated that, following the accident, he had spent six weeks in hospital. He attended a programme of physiotherapy subsequently and continues to attend an Orthopaedic Consultant once a year. He said that he has been prescribed sleeping medication and anti-inflammatory medication, to be taken as required.
The appellant reported that he has a 15 – 20 degree bend in his right knee, that he can get pain if walking longer distances and pain in his leg if sitting for too long. He said that he experiences pain when he is sleeping. He said that he used a stick until 2009 but no longer needs it. He advised that he had registered with SOLAS (Further Education and Training Authority) and had applied for a part-time job and for a plastering course.
Comment/Conclusion: The Appeals Officer observed that the appellant presented as having no obvious difficulty in walking and that the evidence indicated he had made progress in recovering from the injury sustained. He noted that the term ‘suitable employment’ applies to a wide variety of employment types and not just to the person’s usual or preferred type of work and he noted also that the appellant had been engaged in job-seeking.
He considered that while the appellant’s knee injury is likely to be longstanding and such as to restrict him in carrying out some types of employment, it had not been established that he was now substantially restricted in carrying out any suitable employment. He concluded that the appellant did not meet the required criteria for receipt of Disability Allowance and noted that it was open to him to re-apply for Disability Allowance in the event of new or additional medical evidence becoming available.
Decision of the Appeals Officer: The appeal is disallowed.
Decision reason(s): Disability Allowance is a payment for persons who are confirmed to be substantially restricted in undertaking any suitable employment having regard to their age, education and work experience. This medical restriction must be medically certified as having continued, or as being expected to continue for at least 12 months. The term “suitable employment” applies to a wide variety of employment types and not just to the person’s usual or preferred type of work.
I have carefully reviewed all medical and other evidence provided in this case including that adduced at the oral hearing. The evidence indicates that the appellant suffered significant injury in 2007 and at that time was deemed eligible for Disability Allowance. I have concluded that the evidence now suggests that the appellant has made progress in recovering from the effects of the accident.
I have concluded that while the appellant’s knee injury will be longstanding and will restrict him in carrying out some types of employment, it has not been established that the appellant is now substantially restricted in carrying out any suitable employment as referred to above. I have concluded that the appellant does not meet the required criteria for receipt of Disability Allowance. In the circumstances I regret that the appeal does not succeed.
It is open to the appellant to re-apply for Disability Allowance in the event of new or additional medical evidence becoming available in this case.