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Assessing the ability to work

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 06 March 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:519
  1. Jos Verbeek, occupational physician1,
  2. Frank van Dijk, occupational physician2
  1. 1Cochrane Occupational Health Field, Knowledge Transfer Team, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Kuopio, Finland
  2. 2Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands

New UK test claims to be fair but lacks rigorous scientific evaluation

Recently, the Department of Work and Pensions in the United Kingdom announced a renewal of the personal capacity assessment. The report states that the renewal is expected to result in 20 000 fewer people claiming sickness benefits each year. It also claims that the new test is more robust, accurate, and fair than the previous one.1

Two issues are at stake here: firstly, the provision of work and a decent income for millions of people with disabilities and, secondly, the billions of pounds that society is willing and able to pay in disability benefits.In many European countries, the growing numbers of people claiming disability benefit and expenditure on these benefits is an important point of political interest.2

The personal capacity assessment lists 17 activities, each of which can be given a score according to the degree of limitation. People with a score of 15 or more are assessed as unable to work. Changes have been made to the 17 activities and limitations in the new assessment; for example, not being able to walk more …

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