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Assessing work disability for social security benefits: international models for the direct assessment of work capacity

Baumberg Geiger, Ben, Garthwaite, Kayleigh, Warren, Jon, Bambra, Clare (2017) Assessing work disability for social security benefits: international models for the direct assessment of work capacity. Disability and Rehabilitation, . pp. 1-9. ISSN 0963-8288. E-ISSN 1464-5165. (doi:10.1080/09638288.2017.1366556)


Purpose: It has been argued that social security disability assessments should directly assess claimants’ work capacity, rather than relying on proxies such as on functioning. However, there is little academic discussion of how such assessments could be conducted.

Method: The article presents an account of different models of direct disability assessments based on case studies of the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, utilising over 150 documents and 40 expert interviews.

Results: Three models of direct work disability assessments can be observed: (i) structured assessment, which measures the functional demands of jobs across the national economy and compares these to claimants’ functional capacities; (ii) demonstrated assessment, which looks at claimants’ actual experiences in the labour market and infers a lack of work capacity from the failure of a concerned rehabilitation attempt; and (iii) expert assessment, based on the judgement of skilled professionals.

Conclusions: Direct disability assessment within social security is not just theoretically desirable, but can be implemented in practice. We have shown that there are three distinct ways that this can be done, each with different strengths and weaknesses. Further research is needed to clarify the costs, validity/legitimacy, and consequences of these different models.

- Implications for rehabilitation

- Based on case studies of nine countries, we show that direct disability assessment can be implemented, and argue that there are three different ways of doing it.

- While it is possible to implement a direct assessment of work capacity for social security benefits, further research is necessary to understand how best to maximise validity, legitimacy, and cost-effectiveness.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/09638288.2017.1366556
Uncontrolled keywords: Social security, eligibility, disability, disability assessment, work requirements
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Ben Baumberg Geiger
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 08:30 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 19:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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