Ailing nurse sues ministry for refusal of disability grant

A nurse from San­gre Grande, suf­fer­ing from a rare au­toim­mune dis­ease has been grant­ed per­mis­sion to sue the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and Fam­i­ly Af­fairs and the Cen­tral Pub­lic As­sis­tance Board over re­fus­ing to grant her a dis­abil­i­ty as­sis­tance grant.

High Court Judge Eleanor Don­ald­son-Hon­ey­well yes­ter­day grant­ed Ruth Pe­ters leave to pur­sue her ju­di­cial re­view against as the min­istry and State board af­ter rul­ing that she had a valid case with a re­al­is­tic prospect of suc­cess.

Ac­cord­ing to her court fil­ings, Pe­ters, who last worked at the San­gre Grande Dis­trict Hos­pi­tal, was di­ag­nosed with Gillian-Barre syn­drome in Ju­ly, last year.

She was as­sessed as be­ing 90 per cent dis­abled and could no longer work to sup­port her two chil­dren, ages six and nine.

In Oc­to­ber, last year, Pe­ters' fa­ther went to the San­gre Grande Wel­fare Of­fice to ap­ply for a grant for his daugh­ter.

Af­ter wait­ing sev­er­al months, Pe­ters was then in­formed that she did not qual­i­fy as she was not per­ma­nent­ly dis­abled.

In her law­suit, Pe­ters' lawyers are con­tend­ing that the min­istry and the board's pol­i­cy was not con­sis­tent with the Pub­lic As­sis­tance Act.

Ac­cord­ing to Sec­tion 11 of the leg­is­la­tion, a per­son is en­ti­tled to ap­ply for the grant if they are cer­ti­fied to be so dis­abled that they can not earn a liveli­hood.

"The manda­to­ry re­quire­ment for per­ma­nence is not con­tem­plat­ed by the said act and its im­po­si­tion in the cri­te­ria is not in keep­ing with the said act," Pe­ters' lawyers stat­ed, in their ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to pur­sue the case.

Pe­ters is seek­ing an or­der com­pelling the min­istry and board to ap­prove her grant and to ad­just its pol­i­cy to re­flect her lawyers' in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the leg­is­la­tion.

Pe­ters' lawyers will now have to file the law­suit be­fore they get a date for the first hear­ing of the case.

Pe­ters is be­ing rep­re­sent­ed by Jagdeo Singh, Di­nesh Ram­bal­ly, Kiel Tak­lals­ingh, Ste­fan Ramkissoon and Rhea Khan.

About Gillian-Barre syn­drome

Gillian-Barre syn­drome is rapid-on­set mus­cle weak­ness caused when the im­mune sys­tem mis­tak­en­ly at­tacks the pe­riph­er­al ner­vous sys­tem (nerves lo­cat­ed out­side of the brain and spinal cord).

Symp­toms in­clude changes in sen­sa­tion, pain and mus­cle weak­ness start­ing in the hands and feet. It af­fects ap­prox­i­mate­ly one or two per­sons in every 100,000.

Those af­flict­ed with the syn­drome can re­cov­er over sev­er­al years with treat­ment.

One third are left with per­ma­nent weak­ness.

Reporter: Derek Achong

Ailing nurse sues ministry for refusal of disability grant

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