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Neutral Citation Number: 2009 37
Reported Number: R(DLA)1/09
File Number: CDLA 1450 2008
Appellant: NT
Respondent: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Judge/Commissioner: Judge H. Levenson
Date Of Decision: 18/02/2009
Date Added: 09/03/2009
Main Category: Human rights law
Main Subcategory: article 14 (non-discrimination)
Secondary Category: DLA, MA: mobility
Secondary Subcategory: other
Notes: Human rights – upper age limit for entitlement to mobility component – whether discrimination contrary to Article 14 of the Convention The claimant was in receipt of lower rate mobility component and middle rate care component of disability living allowance. Following a fall she applied for a supersession of the decision making the existing award and for it to be replaced by a decision awarding higher rate mobility component instead of lower rate mobility component. The Secretary of State refused to supersede the previous decision on the basis that the claimant was over 65 when her mobility needs increased. The claimant appealed to the tribunal against that decision, raising the argument that she had been discriminated against in breach of the human rights legislation. The tribunal confirmed the Secretary of State’s decision. The claimant appealed. It was common ground between the parties that, subject to arguments of human rights law, under section 75(1) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 as it stood there could be no entitlement to higher rate mobility component. The Secretary of State argued that there was objective and reasonable justification for making a distinction based on age, as the Government’s priority in introducing the benefit was to help primarily those of working age with mobility problems. Held, dismissing the appeal, that: 1. if a person is unable or virtually unable to walk, which is the main non age-related condition of entitlement to higher rate mobility component, then the availability of the benefit might make all the difference between being housebound and being able to pay for transport to visit family and others and to lead a more autonomous life, and therefore the component is within the ambit of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as Article 1 of Protocol 1 (peaceful enjoyment of possessions) (paragraphs 24 to 29); 2. while age is a status capable of being protected by Article 14, a difference of treatment in entitlement to one particular social security monetary benefit in a complex and sophisticated benefit system when the complainant has reached the age of entitlement to other benefits is not demeaning but does require rational justification as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate social policy objective (R (Carson) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2005] UKHL 37, [2006] 1 AC 173 followed) (paragraphs 32 to 37); 3. the Secretary of State had provided a rational explanation for the policy of the law and the method of achieving the objectives of that policy were proportionate (paragraph 38).
Decision(s) to Download: R(DLA_ 1_09 bv.doc R(DLA_ 1_09 bv.doc