This case relates to the client’s Carer’s Allowance claim in respect of his daughter for whom he cares.
The client had been in receipt of Carer’s Allowance and Domiciliary Care Allowance in respect of his daughter until 5 November 2013. At this time, the client’s daughter reached aged 16, and therefore, the client could no longer claim Domiciliary Care Allowance in respect of his daughter. She subsequently applied for, and was awarded, Disability Allowance.
When the Domiciliary Care Allowance payment ceased, the client’s eligibility for Carer’s Allowance was reviewed. A Deciding Officer at the Department of Social Protection determined that the client’s daughter did not require full time care and attention and consequently the client was found to be no longer entitled to Carer’s Allowance. The client appealed this decision. The Appeal was disallowed by an Appeals Officer in June 2014. The decision was made on a summary basis; that is, without an oral hearing.
CLM Northside’s input
The client sought assistance from CLM Northside and was represented thereafter. By way of a Freedom of Information request on behalf of the client, CLM sought the relevant papers held by the DSP, including any medical records/ opinions. It was ascertained that one “desk-based” medical assessment had taken place with no physical examination of the client’s daughter carried out.
In February 2015, CLM requested a review of the decision of the Appeals Officer. This request was made in accordance with Sections 317 and 318 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended). CLM argued that the decision of the Appeals Officer was at odds with the client’s testimony and that of the professionals charged with the care of his daughter.
CLM asserted that the Appeals Officer’s decision was flawed in its reasoning as the only evidence to support the finding was the opinion of the Department of Social Protection’s Medical Assessor, an opinion which was of questionable authority as it was confined to a “desk based” assessment only and the Medical Assessor was not privy to the entirety of the medical evidence that was before the Appeals Officer.
Furthermore, the Appeals Officer was not privy to the testimony of the Client, evidence that could have provided an account of the practical reality of the care required by his daughter. CLM also submitted further medical evidence in support of the client’s position.
The Appeals Officer revised his decision and the appeal was allowed in April 2015. This meant that the client had his Carer’s Allowance restored in respect of his daughter and received the benefits to which he was entitled.