ACC claim win for scheme two Veteran
A complex case involving a scheme two Veteran with occupational asthma and neurotoxicity.
During their time in the New Zealand Army this Veteran was exposed to solvent-based paint causing the development of asthma. For eight years ACC provided cover in the form of an independent allowance for occupational asthma and solvent neurotoxicity.
In more recent times there was an ACC re-assessment performed which concluded that current emotional and behavioural problems such as impulse control, cognitive inflexibility, headaches, competency, memory isolation, head and neck sweating, were due to non-covered causes. This resulted in the allowance for the veteran being immediately stopped. The veteran was being assisted during this process by one of our District Support Advisers.
The National Office (RNZRSA) Support team were asked to assist at this point.
A new psychological assessment report was provided by a psychologist. They concluded the Veteran presented with, "A degree of both neurological and behavioural impairment",
His symptom cluster of cognitive and emotional disinhibition, impulsivity, irritability, lack of insight, and apathy, have all been reported as being associated with toluene brain poisoning and/or diffuse white matter, but particularly frontal lobe damage.
The assessor went on to question the conclusions reached by earlier neuropsychological testing, considering that the results, in fact, showed clinically significant levels of difficulty from the test scores. After weighing various factors, it was concluded that paint solvent toxicity was the more likely cause of these problems:
His presentation today is the result not only of neurotoxic poisoning but also the intervening 25+ years of life experience, which has included much struggle, emotional difficulty and loss within his own family and at work, financial hardship, his struggles to receive recognition of responsibility by the army for his impairment and suffering, and his struggles to get financial support.
The emotional fixedness and intensity of his concerns about injustice, unfairness and bullying etc could well be explained by sensitisation from the life events he has been through, but his pattern of hair trigger lability, impulsiveness and lack of judgement in much of his behaviour, together with the predominance of apathy rather than depression, are all suggestive of underlying frontal lobe neurological impairment rather than emotional or personality disorder.
From the case review, it was concluded the ACC review file confirmed very divergent views between various specialists as to whether the ongoing health problems were related to neurotoxicity or other causes. That would mean eligibility to an independence allowance would need to be reinstated and backdated to when it ceased.
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