Home > Uncategorized > Disability benefit claims

Disability benefit claims

Paul Gregg

Department for Work and Pensions figures released this week suggest that only 7% of applicants for the new disability benefit, Employment Support Allowance (ESA), during the two years since its inception, are found unfit for work. The implicit suggestion is that the previous regime was widely abused by ‘scroungers and malingerers’. Yet the total number of claims for disability related workless benefits is almost exactly the same, at 2.6 million, in the latest data (November 2010) as it was in 2008, when the new benefit started. Even among claims less than two years old and hence all assessed under the new regime there are 640,000 claimants, which is exactly the same as in 2008. So, how can the impression of a big crackdown on claims under the new test, and the absence of any decline in numbers claiming be reconciled?

The answer is three fold. Firstly, although only 7% of new applicants go on to be deemed unfit for work, another 17% are eligible for ESA, but deemed that with the correct support and improvements in health they may get back into work. ‘May’ being the important word here. I designed the structure of support for this group under the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ banner, which will be delivered under the new Work Programme. How successful it will be is yet to be demonstrated. So, 24% of new claims go on to be eligible for ESA, not 7%.

The second key point is that a large number of applicants never got onto Incapacity Benefits (IB), the forerunner of ESA, either. Some people simply got better before the assessment phase was completed and so never got tested, or were denied access through the test applied at the time. People start a claim for disability related benefits but begin in an assessment phase, during which they receive the same benefits as they would for unemployment. It is only after this is completed, at around 13 weeks, that the recipient receives the eligibility decision as to whether they move on to the full ESA benefit. A lot of people withdraw before the test occurs and always have; 36% of applicants in the new figures. A useful guide to this would be what proportion of claims under 13 weeks go onto the main benefit. However, as so many claims go to appeal, during which time people remain as though they are still in the assessment phase, a better picture emerges after 6 months. The figure below highlights the survival rates for claims before and after the new ESA regime was introduced in late 2008. It shows the proportion of claims under 13 weeks old, and hence in the assessment phase, which are still live a further 3 months, 6 months and so on after their commencement. After 3 months some 72% of applicant’s claims are still live and after 6 months this falls to 50%. Of key importance here is that this was around 80% and 60% respectively under IB pre-October 2008. Hence, ESA has reduced the numbers of applicants reaching at least 6 months duration by 10%, and this appears to persist through to the longest duration data we have. So the new regime is leading to around 10% fewer people, after the appeals process is completed, being passed as eligible for ESA. A story far removed from just 7% being found unfit for work.

The third reason this has not had any effect on the total number of claims under 2 years duration, and thus assessed under the new test, is that the total number of new claims has risen from around 130,000 per quarter in 2008 to around 160,000 now. This is almost certainly as a result of the recession but past experience suggests it will take quite a long time to abate fully. So, between 1 and 2 years duration we now have the first quarter of data that is fully under the new regime. After all the assessment and appeals have been completed we can derive that the number of claims has fallen to 206,000 from about 235,000 prior to the reform. This is around 12% lower, but this is currently offset by shorter duration claims. As time progresses and the impact of the recession diminishes the new ESA tests will make a clearer difference to the total number of claims. However, it will be a long time before this is very visible. What will be more important over the next 3 years will be the re-testing of existing IB claimants, as well as the removal of eligibility to ESA for those claiming for more than 1 year and who are not eligible for means tested benefits.

Figure 1 Proportion of Claims of 0-13 weeks duration that are still live after intervals specified

Figure 1 chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
  1. August 14, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Well said Diana

  2. diana
    August 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    As a disabled person I like the rest of us live in fear of this so called ‘testing’ for fitness. These tests tests have already been proved unfit of purpose with more and more people challenging the outcomes. For one I cant even get into most of the shops and businesses around and about the country, let alone manage public transport. The government should be testing the ‘fitness’ of the country in helping us join in with the rest of society first and foremost.

  3. July 30, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    The governments supposed idea that they are going to get disabled people working is laughable and anyone thinking it can be done is deluding themselves.

    We have a minority of disabled people in the workplace even though we have laws to protect against discrimination etc, it still doesn’t work.

    So long as there is disability employers will discriminate against us, some firms will give menial jobs to us but that’s about it, the government and it’s advisors including people like Prof Paul Gregg are conning the rest of society and the very people they are supposedly trying to help(Disabled people).

    The corruption involved with the Atos assessment process is rife, we have all the political parties basically agreeing with one another, they all think we need reform which in reality we don’t, I believe even Prof Gregg has said that the system of welfare we have is doing it’s job correctly already? If that’s the case why are we tampering with a system that works?

    The idiot politicians and political elite keep on telling us it’s better for you If you do some work, really? So it’s good for my soul and mind that the government would put disabled people to work doing menial jobs like assembling poppies once a year, patting us on the back and saying well done, then paying us below the going rate for our work because where disabled? No thanks, I’m not a slave, I may be disabled but taking any job is not good for my soul..

    Maybe Prof Gregg should write to the government and ask them why they have not clawed back the money the cost of tribunals and appeals has cost the taxpayer?

    The whole process is unfair both morally and cost wise.

    Has anyone seen the amount of suicides linked to the Atos debarcle? If this sort of thing continues the government won’t need to assess the disabled/sick as there won’t be any left.

  4. July 27, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    “Hence, ESA has reduced the numbers of applicants reaching at least 6 months duration by 10%, and this appears to persist through to the longest duration data we have. So the new regime is leading to around 10% fewer people, after the appeals process is completed, being passed as eligible for ESA.”

    I’d say that’s optimistic. Very few appeals will have been heard within 6 months of a claim, especially as this will only 3 months after the negative incapacity for work decision. Claimants have a month to appeal and it is extremely rare for the Tribunals Service to dispose of an appeal within 2 months, 4-6 months is more the norm in my experience.

    Seeing as 37% appeal and 40% of those succeed that brings that lost 10% back more or less.

  5. July 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    “What will be more important over the next 3 years will be the re-testing of existing IB claimants, as well as the removal of eligibility to ESA for those claiming for more than 1 year and who are not eligible for means tested benefits.”

    As someone facing the prospect of time-limiting, but with no realistic prospect of a rapid return to the job market I can’t help feeling that ‘important’ is far too mild a word to describe the prospects. ‘devastating’, ‘catastrophic’, perhaps even ‘apocalyptic’ seem far more appropriate when you face being required to sacrifice everything you have worked for, pension fund and all. Dilnot took the position that this is not something that can reasonably be asked of elderly people, so why is the situation for disabled people so different?

  6. Tim
    July 27, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    At frequent intervals the DWP claim that this reform is about helping disabled people into work. If that were true, they would be:

    a) trying to get more people into the WRAG, where the tailored help and support allegedly is, and:

    b) tracking what is happening to disabled people placed on JSA to see whether they are successful in moving people into work.

    They are doing neither of those things and so I do not believe they really care about getting disabled people into work at all.

    They are causing tremendous suffering though.

  1. July 28, 2011 at 8:19 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: