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Case Studies » Sickness » 2014/19 - Specified Disability: Depression, Low Back Pain


Specified Disability: Depression, Low Back Pain   

Background: The appellant, aged 49 years, made a claim for Disability Allowance in 2014.  In completing the ability/disability profile on the claim form, his G.P. assessed the appellant as being moderately affected in eight of the categories outlined and affected to a mild degree in one other area.  He stated that the appellant had sustained an accident some years previously, suffering a disc prolapse, and that he had been experiencing depression for three years.  He advised that there had been no specialist referral, and that he had not prescribed medication.

The appellant completed a Form MR 99, a questionnaire intended to allow for a personal assessment of the effects of injury or illness.  In doing so, he had stated that he had sustained an injury to his back while working as a cleaner; his mental and physical health had been affected; he cannot interact with others; he experiences sleep disturbance and fatigue; he cannot lift; he struggles to climb stairs; he cannot use public transport, and he is unable to cope with crowds.  He identified problems with manual dexterity, communications and pursuit of hobbies.


Oral hearing: The appellant attended alone.  He stated that he was unable to work due to depression and low back pain.  He said that the back pain began 18 months ago when he pulled his back while lifting.  He went to his G.P. who prescribed pain relief.  He said he had been advised that he had a slipped disc and he was referred for an MRI scan.  He advised that a slipped disc was ruled out following the scan but that he was still awaiting referral for specialist opinion.

The appellant said that he considers his G.P. has not fully examined his back or his medical history and that he just recommends Paracetamol for back pain.  He went on to say that he intended to change G.P.  He reported that he continues to be restricted in relation to standing, and he cannot stand for long enough at the sink or cooker to prepare a meal, or stand in a queue for more than 30 seconds.  He referred to pain shooting up along his back and said that he needs his partner’s help to get out of bed and that, when they go shopping, she carries the shopping bags as he is unable to carry any weight.  He said his sleep is severely disrupted and that he has to lie on the floor two or three night a week.

The appellant said he had been prescribed anti-depressants but could not afford to pay for them.  He reported spending his time sitting at his computer or in his room, even when visitors call.  He said he does not feel right in himself and that he avoids interaction with other people, and that his partner understands that he has problems.

Comment/Conclusion: The Appeals Officer noted that appellant had presented at the oral hearing as relaxed and that he had outlined his evidence clearly and with no sign of reservation.  He considered that he had related well and had not displayed any apparent distress.  He noted his description of the restrictions he experiences due to back pain and depression.  He noted also the medical evidence in relation to the history and treatment of those conditions and concluded that it was not apparent that the appellant was affected to the extent that would render him substantially restricted from all work suitable to a person of his age and experience.

Decision of the Appeals Officer: The appeal is disallowed.


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 be expected to continue for at least one year.

The appellant presented at the oral hearing as relaxed and gave his evidence clearly with no sign of reservation or nervousness; he related well and did not display any apparent distress. He describes restrictions due to back pain and depression. I note the medical evidence in relation to the treatment and history of these conditions and find that it’s not apparent the appellant is affected to the extent as to render him substantially restricted from all work suitable to a person of his age and experience. I regret therefore the appeal is disallowed.