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Conference Paper Department for Work and Pensions Summer School

Disability Benefits


Publication date

10 Jul 2001


The cost of disability benefits has increased five-fold over 20 years. This has been caused more by a rise in the number of disabled claimants than by improvements in the generosity of available benefits.
What do we mean by 'disability'? The answer is not so obvious as you might think.
Why has the number of claims increased so fast?
How do the law, doctors and BA staff combine to make judgements about the severity of a claimant's impairments?
What do claimants think about it?
The talk will review disability benefit policies since they were first introduced in 1971, and especially the crisis of confidence experienced by both Conservative and Labour governments in the mid 1990s. Disability benefits provide a useful case-study of the relative importance of 'statistics', 'research', 'lobbying', 'public opinion' and 'politics' in the development of social security policies.


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