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Case Studies » Sickness » 2014/21 - Specified Disability: Low Back Pain, Hearing Loss, Urinary Issues


Specified Disability: Low Back Pain, Hearing Loss, Urinary Issues

Background: It was held that the appellant, an EU national aged 54 years, did not satisfy either the Habitual Residence Condition or the medical qualifying condition.  Subsequently, he made a claim for basic income support under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme and he was deemed not to be habitually resident.  He appealed all three decisions and the Supplementary Welfare Allowance one was dealt with first.   (These appeals are given priority as they refer to basic income support.)  That appeal was successful.  Accordingly, he was held to be habitually resident for purposes of his Disability Allowance claim also and the only question to be determined was the medical one.

Oral hearing: The appellant’s daughter accompanied him, and she acted as interpreter throughout the hearing.  He advised that he had attended English classes about three years ago but said that he worked with others who spoke the same language as he did, and went shopping where that language was spoken, so that his English remained poor.  He said that his wife is still living in [EU country] and that they communicate through skype and phone conversations.  The Appeals Officer observed that the appellant walked with the aid of a crutch and wore hearing aids.

The appellant said that he was living in private rented accommodation with his daughter and her partner.  He advised that they shared the cost of the rent and that he had been in receipt of Supplementary Welfare Allowance (Rent Supplement) towards his portion of the rent since 2010.  He said that he had been suffering with back pain for the past ten years but that the pain had become more intense in the past two years.  He incurred the injury stepping out of a car in [EU country] ten years ago.  He described how he heard a click and suffered immediate pain.  He received a nerve root injection at the time and this brought him pain relief for about two years.  He experienced pain and discomfort after this while working as a mechanic but he said that the pain had been bearable and that he was able to work through it.  He reported that he had been less active since losing his employment as a general operative in early 2010 and that his back condition had deteriorated.  He attended physiotherapy sessions in 2013 and had also gone swimming but said that he was not doing any exercise programme at this stage.

The appellant referred to the Orthopaedic Surgeon he was attending and provided details of his last out-patient appointment.  He had been advised that he needed another Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan.  When the results of the scan were examined, a nerve block injection was recommended.  At the time of the oral hearing, he had been given an appointment for this procedure.  He reported that he has difficulty in sitting in any one position for a long duration and that his sleep is disturbed.  In addition to his chronic lower back and leg pain, he reported that he has recently been experiencing problems with urinary frequency and urinary incontinence and he has been referred to the Urology Department at his local hospital.  He provided details of the medication he has been prescribed.

Comment/Conclusion: The Appeals Officer noted that the medical evidence indicated that the appellant had been affected by his condition since 2010 and that his G.P. expected this to last indefinitely.  He noted also that he had been referred to the Urology and Orthopaedic Departments at his local hospital and to the HSE Hearing Service Clinic in relation to his different presenting conditions.  He considered that that his need for a nerve block injection confirmed that the appellant was suffering significant pain in his lower back, and he took account also of the range of prescription medication that he was taking.  He concluded that it had been established that the appellant had continued to be substantially restricted in undertaking suitable employment for a period in excess of twelve months.

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.

I am satisfied, having carefully examined all of the evidence available, including that adduced at oral hearing, that the appellant has established that he is substantially restricted from undertaking employment and that this restriction has continued for in excess of twelve months. In the circumstances, this appeal succeeds.