Case Studies » Sickness » Disability Allowance - Case from 2015 Annual Report (ref: 2015/09)
Background: The appellant, in his mid-30 s, had a diagnosis of Lower Back Pain and Hypertension. His G.P. assessed the categories of mental health/behaviour, walking, standing, sitting/rising as being moderately affected by his condition, while indicating that he was affected to a severe degree in relation to lifting/carrying, climbing stairs/ladders, and bending/kneeling/squatting. He advised that the appellant was suffering from severe low back pain, was unable to undertake any physical work, and was awaiting an orthopaedic consultation.
Oral hearing: The appellant was unaccompanied at the hearing. An official interpreter attended at the request of the Appeals Officer. The appellant outlined the following regarding his circumstances:
- His last employment was on a farm, where he had been sorting potatoes. This was seasonal work. He had been asked to do additional work which involved feeding the animals but he was having problems with his back at the time and was unable to do so. He had worked as a Kitchen Porter prior to the farm work.
- He said that his back first gave him problems about 5 years previously. He said there was no particular trigger, although he had been the victim of an assault and this may have been a contributory factor as he had been badly beaten. He said he had been hospitalised for a week in a [specified] central European country due to his back problem and that he had been treated with injections and medication.
- He submitted medical evidence for the Accident and Emergency department of his local hospital, where he had been taken by ambulance some months earlier due to severe back pain. He referred to a CT scan taken, which had shown problems with the discs in his back, although did not have a copy of the results with him. He advised that he had returned to the hospital the following month to see a doctor about rehabilitation exercises (appointment card submitted) but said that he had been told that he was not a suitable candidate for the exercises at present.
- He advised that he had attended hospital again recently due to the severity of the pain in his back, and that he had been prescribed medication. He submitted a copy of the prescription.
- He confirmed that he was awaiting an appointment with an Orthopaedic Surgeon (letter submitted). He said that he had been advised that he might need surgery and he was concerned about the risks.
- He reported that he was not able to bend and put his socks on; he cannot stay in one position for long; he must get out of bed in a certain way; he experiences shooting pain down his left leg to his heel; he is taking a range of medication including sleeping tablets, and is upset by the situation.
- The appellant confirmed that he also suffers from Hypertension. This is monitored by his doctor and the medication is changed from time to time. He reported that he can feel sick at times and gets headaches if it is not properly controlled.
- The appellant advised that he wears a pain relief band around his waist, and said that he would work if he was fit to do so. In conclusion, he said that he was nervous about his current situation.
Consideration: The legislation governing entitlement to Disability Allowance provides that the allowance is payable to a person who is, by reason of a specified disability, substantially restricted in undertaking employment of a kind which, if the person was not suffering from the disability, would be suited to that person’s age, experience and qualifications.
The Appeals Officer noted the medical evidence, including the G.P. report which indicated that the appellant’s mobility was moderately to severely affected by his condition. She noted the appellant’s account of his circumstances, his experience as a Kitchen Porter and also his work sorting potatoes on a farm. In addition, she had regard to the G.P. statement that he was not able to do any physical work. She concluded that it had been established that the appellant was substantially restricted in undertaking suitable employment, by reason of a specified disability that had continued for at least one year and, therefore, that he satisfied the criteria for receipt of Disability Allowance.
Outcome: Appeal allowed.