Friday, 4 February 2011

Does your condition make you likely to be found fit for work?

A very interesting article was posted on the Benefits and Work website today, detailing which impairments are most likely to mean you are awarded Employment and Support Allowance and put into the Support group (who do not have to undertake work-related activities).

It’s a summary of these statistics from the DWP.

The statistics show that of those who applied for ESA, 39% were declared fit for work. 36% had their claim closed before the assessment was completed, and at the time the statistics were gathered, 3% of claims were still in progress. This means that only 22% of applicants were awarded ESA and of those, only 6% were put into the Support group – the other 16% were placed in the Work Related Activity Group.

People are placed in the Support Group for one of these reasons:
  • Chemotherapy – people receiving certain types of chemotherapy automatically qualify

  • Physical or mental health risk – if, in “exceptional circumstances”, it would cause serious harm to the person’s mental or physical health if they were found fit for work

  • Pregnancy risk – if a woman is pregnant and working would harm her or her unborn child

  • Severe functional disability – if the person meets certain critieria regarding their mental or physical capacity. This is laid out in legislation and uses a scoring system to work out if someone qualifies. This is done with a face to face assessment

  • Terminally ill – someone who is not expected to live for more than 6 months

Other people will be put in the Work Related Activity Group or classed fit to work.

There is also a breakdown of which conditions were put in each group. It shows that people most likely to be put in the support group are those with neoplasms (e.g. cancer), or congenital malformations / deformations (such as Down’s syndrome or spina bifida). Over 50% of applicants with these conditions were placed in the Support Group.

After that, a few groups were more likely than others to be placed in the support group – 16% of people with diseases of the nervous system (like Motor Neurone disease, cerebral palsy, Huntingdon’s disease) but most groups had fewer than 10% of claimants being placed in the support group. And if you have a disease of the musculoskeltal system and connective tissue – such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, fibromyalgia, lupus or arthritis – you have a 49% chance of being found fit for work. Yet I know from my own experience of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome how limiting it can be.

I find it shocking that of those applying for ESA only 6% were placed in the Support group but, as I have a friend who struggles to move and breathe yet was declared fit for work earlier this year, very little surprises me anymore.

You will need to have a subscription to Benefits and Work to see the full article, which is here: although the DWP’s statistics are online here:


  1. Lets face it - This Govt HATE all disabled peopl and are using pathetic excuses to demonise us!

    This was interesting (not the govt bits the real people bits)

  2. the "laid out in legislation" link is broken.

  3. I see that people with digestive diseases are likely to be found fit for work. That's great; just point me to an employer who'll be fine with my needing constant bathroom breaks, and with the days I'm too sick to leave the house.

    Yeah, thought not.

  4. What is interesting is that the statistics of the percentages of people placed into each group have remained at approximately the same levels ever since the introduction of ESA. Almost as if there were targets set for what percentage of applicants should be placed into each group?! Surely not?!!!!!

  5. My aunt, who was suffering with cancer and passed away yesterday morning, was found fit for work not two weeks ago.

    I was surprised at how unsurprised I was by that.

  6. Colder, thanks. I've been unable to make the link work in blogger, for some reason, so I've removed it. But if you're interested the ESA legislation is here:

    Friendly Neighbourhood Grammar Nazi: I'm so sorry to hear that.