Disability pension fail for woman who suffered stroke
A TASMANIAN woman who suffered a stroke two days after she underwent surgery for a prolapse has lost her legal battle for the disability pension.
The woman, who had longstanding gynaecological issues and ongoing incontinence dating back to 2004, had "straightforward and uncomplicated" surgery in July 2018.
But two days later, she suffered a stroke and spent a long period in hospital, according to a recent Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) decision.
She lodged a claim for disability support pension the following month, with Centrelink agreeing she met the criteria and was unable to work at least 15 hours a week for a 13-week period ending in November.
However, the woman said since then, she'd suffered ongoing problems with her right shoulder as a result of the stroke, meaning she couldn't "turn on a light switch or flush the toilet".
In April 2019, the AAT Social Services & Child Support Division agreed with Centrelink's assessment she wasn't eligible for the pension beyond November 2018, with the woman seeking a review.
Her doctor of 20 years gave a medical report in July 2019 with his opinion "she would never work again" due to long-term bowel troubles, physical and psychological impairment from the stroke, a lack of function in her arm, diabetes that reduced her life expectancy and ongoing vaginal problems.
Tribunal member Lynette Rieper said the pension criteria required impairments be "fully diagnosed, fully treated and fully stabilised" and likely to last longer than two years within the period of qualification - the 13 weeks from August 2018.
She agreed with an argument by the Department of Social Services that the tribunal had to look at the "situation as it was" and the evidence available at the time.
It said appeals on disability support pensions often came to the tribunal a year or more after the initial application was refused, by which time "the natural course" of illnesses or injuries had become more obvious.
It said if a medical condition had progressed since the time of the original application, then "it is up to the applicant" to submit a fresh application.
Ms Rieper said an ultrasound in September 2018 suggested the woman's shoulder injury might be due to reasons other than the stroke, and that an X-ray at the same time showed no significant osteoarthritis or bone injury.
In affirming the previous decision, she said the woman's claim was submitted before her treatment was complete and her condition stabilised, so the tribunal was unable to rate her level of impairment within the relevant period.
Originally published as Disability pension fail for woman who suffered stroke