Jessica Brown has recently published an article that identifies that there is widespread support for the idea that as a community, we should provide financial assistance to those who cannot adequately support themselves because of their disability. She says that over 770,000 Australian are on a Disability Support Pension. This has doubled since the mid 1980’s, a trend also seen in Europe and America.

A recent study published in the British journal Economic Policy states that this is due to inadequate differential between “health disability” and “work disability”.

Health disability is measurable objective change in population health and is steady and predictable. With improvements to health care and scientific breakthroughs health disability should decline.

Work disability fluctuates with changes in the job market and attitudes towards people with disability in the work place. Globally it is seen that when the job market declines, claims for disability payments go up. While some people will not return to work again some will once their medical condition improves (such as recovery form back injuries or other physical conditions), unemployment falls or social attitudes shift.

Brown claims that by more clearly differentiating between the two groups the current situation; where receiving disability benefits have become a defacto dole with little incentive to work due to consequent loss of income, could be reduced.

The author identifies that there is a danger that any decrease in DSP numbers will simply lead to an increase in the unemployment rolls. Therefore, reform efforts must also focus on the availability of suitable jobs and on providing adequate assistance for people with disabilities to find and retain work.

The full article by Jessica Brown and published by CIS can be download from from this link to www.cis.org.au