View high contrast version of the site View high contrast version of the site Decrease text size Increase text size

Case Studies » Sickness » 2014/11 - Specified Disability: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Visual Impairment


Specified Disability: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Visual Impairment  

Background: The appellant is 32 years of age and applied for Disability Allowance in 2013.  He submitted a report from his G.P. which stated that he had lost his sight in one eye and suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, following an assault.  His G.P. stated that he had been referred to the local psychiatric service.  In completing the ability/disability profile, he assessed the appellant as being severely affected in the area of mental health/behaviour, affected to a mild degree in terms of his hearing, and normal in the other categories outlined.  He indicated that the appellant should be accompanied if he was asked to attend an in-person medical assessment.  He submitted a letter on the appellant’s behalf and this was accepted as an appeal.  In that letter, he made reference to the appellant’s ongoing mental health difficulties and advised that he had become homeless.

Oral hearing: The appellant attended alone.  The Appeals Officer read the decision and clarified the question at issue.  He made reference to the grounds of appeal which had been submitted on the appellant’s behalf.  The appellant confirmed that he had become homeless and advised that he was now living with his mother.  He said that he was waiting to secure local authority housing.

In relation to employment, the appellant stated that he last worked in 2007, driving a fork lift truck.  He advised that he had been let go when the company went out of business and that he had been in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance since.  He reported that he had participated in some training courses, and that these had referred mainly to construction.  In terms of education, he advised that he had completed the Leaving Certificate and had undertaken a computer course.

The appellant reported that he has Asthma and attends his G.P. for monthly check-ups.  He confirmed that he continues to attend his Psychiatrist every two weeks and that he also attends a hospital clinic, twice a year, in relation to his eye.  He said that, following the assault, he did not visit the city centre for a year.  He went on to say that he still experiences difficulty in leaving home and feels the need to be accompanied when he does.  He said that he is very fearful of groups of people, particularly groups of young men.  He reported feeling irritable and said that he suffers from recurrent flashbacks.

The appellant described intermittent pain in his head, near the eye where he lost his sight.  He said the blindness in that eye causes problems and that he frequently walks into objects on his left-hand side.  He reported having sleep difficulties and said that frequent flashbacks of the assault cause severe depressive episodes.  He said that when depressed, he had self-harmed.

Comment/Conclusion: The Appeals Officer noted that the appellant’s condition had not improved and that he continued to seek to be accompanied when leaving the house.  He considered that this would severely restrict his ability to obtain and retain employment.  In addition, he noted that the loss of his sight in one eye would restrict the type of work that would be suitable to his experience and education and he noted also that he was prone to walking into things on his left-hand side because of this visual impairment.  Accordingly, he concluded that the qualifying criteria were met.

Decision of the Appeals Officer: The appeal is allowed.

Decision reason(s): Disability Allowance may be paid where a person is substantially restricted in undertaking work which would otherwise be suitable with reference to their age, experience and qualifications and the specified disability must have continued for or be expected to continue for at least one year.  Having carefully examined all the evidence in this case, including that obtained at the oral hearing, and taking account of the medical evidence available, I have concluded that the appellant has established that he meets the qualifying conditions.  In the circumstances, the appeal succeeds.