In October of 2008, the United Kingdom’s Department for Work and Pensions revised their application and approval system for the country’s disability benefit program. Previously, the Incapacity Benefit system had established a low standard of proof for disability and incapacity to work, allegedly allowing thousands, if not millions, of people to wrongly claim disability benefits. With the creation of the Employment and Support Allowance in 2008, however, that number has gone down significantly.
Now, it is estimated that approximately one million people have either been found fit to work or have dropped their disability claims after being put through the required medical fitness test to determine whether they really are unfit to work due to a disability. While this obviously has no bearing on the United States and its Social Security Disability program, it has some analysts and advocates wondering whether an examination process of that rigor could come to the U.S.
According to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, approximately 887,000 of the 1.175 million people who have filed disability applications since October 2008 have either been denied or have dropped their claim. Six percent, or 73,500, were deemed completely unable to work, and an additional 16 percent, or 188,300, were ruled just partially able to work. The government has also pledged to revisit the 2.6 million people granted disability benefits under the prior system.
From the Daily Mail, it appears that the previous Incapacity Benefit system required little proof, and was therefore highly susceptible to abuse. Therefore, it is unlikely that such a rigorous standard of proof will be adopted here. The Social Security Administration already requires that SSD applicants provide medical evidence or other proof of an illness or injury that prevents them from working for at least one year. As the implementation of a new system would be both controversial and costly, it is likely that the program will change in the current economic and political climate.
Source: Daily Mail, “Doctors weed out 1m disability benefit claims as three out of four claimants are found ‘well enough to work'”, 28 April 2011