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Neutral Citation Number:
Reported Number: R(DLA)6/06
File Number: CDLA 1365 2005
Judge/Commissioner: Three-Judge Panel / Tribunal of Commissioners
Date Of Decision: 24/03/2006
Date Added: 09/05/2006
Main Category: DLA, AA: personal care
Main Subcategory: attention: daytime
Secondary Category: DLA, AA: personal care
Secondary Subcategory: attention: night
Notes: Care component – attention – transient effects of alcohol The claimant suffered from chronic alcoholism and various other conditions. Following a medical examination at which he was intoxicated, he was awarded DLA consisting of the mobility component at the higher rate and the care component at the middle rate, for two years. His renewal claim was refused following a medical examination at which he was sober. He appealed and the appeal tribunal dismissed his appeal, finding that his problems were related directly to too much alcohol rather than conditions which might well have been the result of too much alcohol. The claimant appealed and the Chief Commissioner appointed a Tribunal of Commissioners to deal with the case as raising a question of law of special difficulty. The Tribunal of Commissioners had the benefit of expert written and oral evidence in respect of the effects of alcohol consumption and the nature of alcohol dependence. Held, allowing the appeal, that: 1. physical symptoms or manifestations flowing from alcohol dependence alone do not result from an identifiable physical cause and in the light of Harrison and CDLA/2879/2004 (now reported as R(DLA) 4/06), it followed that a claimant is not entitled to higher rate mobility component if the only disability on which his claim is based flows from only such a cause (paragraph 19); 2. if a separate medical condition arises from the excessive consumption of alcohol, then any disabling manifestations of such a condition can be taken into account in assessing entitlement to the care component and the lower rate of the mobility component of DLA, whether or not the ingestion is related to alcohol dependence (paragraphs 21 to 22); 3. the transient and immediate effects consequent upon a person choosing to consume too much alcohol are not to be taken into account in determining entitlement to DLA because a claimant does not require the help contemplated by the legislation if he or she can reasonably be expected to avoid the need for attention or supervision by controlling the consumption of alcohol (paragraphs 23 to 25); 4. alcohol dependency is a medical condition, not a disability, but there is a direct causal link between dependence on alcohol and intoxication (paragraphs 28 to 30); 5. the diagnostic criteria for dependence show that it is inappropriate to think in absolute terms of choice or uncontrollable addiction; it is more helpful to think in terms of the degree of self-control that is realistically attainable in the light of all of the circumstances, including the claimant’s history and steps that are available to him to address his dependence (paragraphs 32 and 33); 6. a person who cannot realistically stop drinking to excess because of a medical condition and cannot function properly as a result can reasonably be said both to be suffering from disablement and to require any attention, supervision or other help contemplated by the legislation that is necessary as a consequence of his drinking and so there is no reason why the effects of being intoxicated should not be taken into account in determining his entitlement to the care component of DLA (paragraph 33); 7. there is also no reason why the possibility of the claimant’s taking advantage of professional assistance to control his alcohol consumption should not be taken into account (paragraph 36); 8. the tribunal in this case was wrong simply to exclude from all consideration the effects of the claimant being drunk (paragraph 43). The Commissioners remitted the case to a differently constituted tribunal for rehearing.
Decision(s) to Download: R(DLA) 6-06 bv.doc R(DLA) 6-06 bv.doc