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Case Studies » Sickness » 2014/20 - Specified Disability: Dystonia


Specified Disability: Dystonia

Background: The appellant, aged 50 years, applied for Disability Allowance and submitted a medical report stating her diagnosis and indicating that this was expected to continue indefinitely.  Her G.P. completed the ability/disability profile and assessed her as being severely affected in terms of balance, with all other functional abilities assessed as normal.  In terms of physical abilities, four were assessed as normal, while one was mild, two were moderate and lifting/carrying was assessed as severe.

Oral hearing: The appellant attended unaccompaniedShe advised that she was in receipt of a basic income payment under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme.  She referred to the onset of Dystonia when she was about 30 years of age.  She said that she had worked in a factory and then in a shop formerly, and had become a carer for her mother when she became ill.  Subsequently, she had claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance and had participated in a Community Employment scheme.  She reported that she had only carried out very light duties as part of that scheme.

The appellant stated that she had attended a Consultant Neurologist at the onset of the condition and had been advised that Dystonia is not unlike Parkinson’s disease, that there is no cure and that it is probably genetic in origin.  She reported that the condition had spread to her shoulders and that she cannot raise her right arm over her head.  She had attended an Orthopaedic Surgeon earlier in the year and is on a waiting list for steroid injections.  She went on to say that she has attended physiotherapy and acupuncture over the years, and has been prescribed pain relief and anti-inflammatories.

The appellant reported restricted mobility and limited flexibility and the presence of a tremor in her neck.  She said that the condition has also affected her mental health.

Comment/Conclusion: The Appeals Officer observed that the appellant’s physical presentation at the oral hearing was consistent with the symptoms and restrictions she had described.  He noted the medical evidence submitted and her G.P’s opinion that there were health and safety issues regarding employment or training.  He concluded that the appellant would experience considerable difficulty in coping with the day-to-day rigours of the open workplace and that the appeal should succeed.

Decision of the Appeals Officer: The appeal is allowed.