In an important case involving an army veteran who sought unemployability allowance (UA) after his career was ended by serious disabilities linked to his military service, a tribunal was called upon to define the concept of 'unemployability'.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) accepted that the man was disabled by osteoarthritis in both his knees, a condition that was connected to high impact stresses that he had endured whilst in the army. Surgical procedures had brought little relief from the pain he suffered and he could only get about on crutches.
He stated that, although he wanted to work, he was in too much pain to do so. The MoD nevertheless took the view that he was capable of administrative or sedentary lines of paid employment and refused to grant him UA. That decision was later upheld by the First-tier Tribunal (FTT).
In allowing the man's appeal against that ruling, the Upper Tribunal (UT) found that, on a true interpretation of services pension rules, he did not have to be permanently unemployable to qualify for the allowance. The types of employment proposed by the MoD as meeting his capabilities, such as packing or light assembly work, were in any event likely to be difficult or impossible for him.
Inconsistencies in the FTT's findings amounted to a failure to give adequate reasons for its decision and an error of law. In the circumstances, the man's case was sent back for rehearing by a freshly constituted FTT.