Contents

Main benefits

Sickness Benefits

Definition of Sickness Benefits

The main benefits in this group are the:

Recent administrative and operational changesTop

From September 2007, new administrative processes for Sickness Benefits:

These decisions by case managers are to be based on:

Between September 2007 and September 2010, clients receiving Sickness Benefits were also obliged to meet the requirements of the Personal Development and Employment planning process if required to by their case manager.

From September 2010, clients receiving a Sickness Benefit are obliged to meet the requirements of the employment planning process if required to by their case manager.

From May 2011, clients receiving a Sickness Benefit are required to complete a reassessment for their benefit every 12 months. This process:

From May 2011, Sickness Benefit recipients assessed by a doctor as being able to work part-time can also be made subject to part-time work obligations.

Eligibility by specific type of Sickness BenefitTop

Sickness Benefit

Who is it available to?

Since 1 October 1998, a Sickness Benefit has been available to people who are:

To receive a Sickness Benefit, a client must be:

Income and residency tests apply.

Work obligations

From September 2010, clients receiving a Sickness Benefit are obliged to fulfil the demands of the employment planning process if required to by their case manager. From May 2011, if they are assessed as being able to work part-time, they may be made subject to part-time work obligations.

Between September 2007 and September 2010, clients receiving a Sickness Benefit were obliged to fulfil the demands of the Personal Development and Employment planning process if required to by their case manager.

The spouses and partners of recipients are also work tested

The type of work test for a spouse or partner depends on the age of the couple’s youngest dependent child.

From September 2007, a spouse or partner is subject to:

– aged over 18, or
– aged 18 and not engaged in full-time education or training
– aged 6–17, or
– aged 18 and engaged in full-time education or training.

If a couple’s youngest dependent child is aged under 6, the spouse or partner is (if required to by their case manager) obliged to engage with:

Sickness Benefit – Hardship

This benefit is available to people who:

Sixteen or 17 year olds may also be eligible for a Sickness Benefit – Hardship if they are:

Numbers of clients receiving a Sickness BenefitTop

The number receiving a Sickness Benefit increased slightly between 2011 and 2012

This increase (see table SB.1) followed a flattening between 2010 and 2011 of the number receiving Sickness Benefit. This pattern reflected movements off and on Sickness Benefits, which in turn reflected:

table SB.1: Numbers receiving a Sickness Benefit

Client age at 30 June Clients receiving a Sickness Benefit1
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Working-age clients receiving benefits 46,271 54,352 58,465 58,009 59,413
Other clients receiving benefits 439 540 751 886 948
Total clients receiving benefits 46,710 54,892 59,216 58,895 60,361

Note

  1. The number of clients recorded in SWIFTT as receiving a Sickness Benefit at the end of June.

The number of Sickness Benefits granted remained higher than the number of Sickness Benefits cancelled

Between 2008/2009 and 2011/2012, grants of Sickness Benefits exceeded cancellations of Sickness Benefits (see table SB.2 and table SB.3). The difference between the two reduced between 2009/2010 and 2011/2012, resulting in a slowing of the growth in the number receiving a Sickness Benefit.

table SB.2: Numbers granted a Sickness Benefit

Client age when benefit granted Grants of a Sickness Benefit1
2007/2008 2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012
Benefits granted to working-age clients 49,518 55,848 55,426 52,207 51,282
Benefits granted to other clients 808 938 954 904 821
Total benefits granted 50,326 56,786 56,380 53,111 52,103

Note

  1. The number of successful applications for a Sickness Benefit recorded in SWIFTT during years ended June.

table SB.3: Numbers cancelling a Sickness Benefit

Client age when benefit cancelled Cancellations of a Sickness Benefit1
2007/2008 2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012
Benefits cancelled by working-age clients 51,207 47,620 50,327 50,721 50,610
Benefits cancelled by other clients 1,139 1,114 1,112 1,223 1,356
Total benefits cancelled 52,346 48,734 51,439 51,944 51,966

Note

  1. The number of cancellations of Sickness Benefits recorded in SWIFTT during years ended June.

Relatively few working-age people were receiving a Sickness Benefit

Between 2010 and 2012, around 2.2% of the working-age population were receiving Sickness Benefits, with 50–64 year olds more likely than younger working-age people to do so.

This reflected, at least in part, a combination of the ageing of the population and the association of ageing with the incidence of health and disability conditions covered by a Sickness Benefit.

See table OT.3 for trends since 1940 in the number of clients receiving a Sickness Benefit.

More information about working-age clients receiving a Sickness Benefit

Most recipients of a Sickness Benefit had a psychological or psychiatric condition or a systemic disorder

Forty-two percent of working-age recipients of a Sickness Benefit in 2011 and 2012 had a psychological or psychiatric condition (see table SB.4). Another 35% had a systemic disorder.

table SB.4: Incapacities of working-age clients receiving a Sickness Benefit

Client incapacity at the end of June Working-age clients receiving a Sickness Benefit1
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Accident, trauma, entry of foreign bodies 3,313 4,333 4,547 4,521 4,662
Cancer 647 684 812 895 875
Congenital conditions 186 225 245 261 285
Disease2 649 784 850 791 757
Intellectual disability 113 117 113 107 105
Pregnancy related 1,428 1,327 1,262 1,328 1,309
Psychological or psychiatric conditions 18,036 22,004 23,931 24,120 24,641
Sensory disorders 542 657 708 720 720
Substance abuse 3,842 4,494 4,642 4,207 4,136
Systemic disorders3 17,242 19,232 20,638 20,269 20,976
Unspecified/ill-defined conditions4 273 495 717 790 947
Total working-age clients 46,271 54,352 58,465 58,009 59,413

Notes

  1. The number of working-age clients recorded in SWIFTT as receiving a Sickness Benefit at the end of June.
  2. Encompasses circulatory system diseases, infectious diseases and parasitic diseases.
  3. Encompasses disorders of physiological systems (eg musculoskeletal systems, metabolic systems).
  4. Includes incapacities not coded and ill-defined conditions.

Three in five working-age clients receiving a Sickness Benefit were aged 40 or over

In 2011 and 2012, 48% of working-age Sickness Benefit recipients were aged 40–59, and another 11% were aged 60–64. Around 26% were aged 25–39.

Recipients of a Sickness Benefit became more likely to have received their benefit for over two years

Thirty-nine percent of working-age recipients of a Sickness Benefit in 2012 had received their current benefit for over two years. This compared with 29% in 2009. The proportion who had received their benefit for under one year decreased (from 52% to 43%) over the same period.

This largely reflected changes in economic conditions. People remained on Sickness Benefits for longer as opportunities for paid work became fewer for people affected by disability and health issues.

Nearly two in five clients granted a Sickness Benefit had a psychological or psychiatric condition

Of the working-age clients granted a Sickness Benefit between 2008/2009 and 2010/2011 (see table SB.5):

table SB.5: Incapacities of working-age clients granted a Sickness Benefit

Client incapacity when benefit granted Sickness Benefits granted to working-age clients1
2007/2008 2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012
Accident, trauma, entry of foreign bodies 5,407 6,601 6,888 6,057 6,134
Cancer 937 986 1,028 978 983
Congenital conditions 211 266 235 214 237
Disease2 710 999 972 839 766
Intellectual disability 64 143 97 105 112
Pregnancy related 4,484 4,496 4,499 4,408 4,426
Psychological or psychiatric conditions 18,227 20,892 20,647 20,028 19,157
Sensory disorders 460 604 572 566 544
Substance abuse 3,178 3,742 3,648 3,333 3,277
Systemic disorders3 15,418 16,295 15,772 14,524 14,323
Unspecified/ill-defined conditions4   422 824 1,068 1,155 1,323
Total granted to working-age clients 49,518 55,848 55,426 52,207 51,282

Notes

  1. The number of successful applications for a Sickness Benefit by working-age clients recorded in SWIFTT during years ended June.
  2. Encompasses circulatory system diseases, infectious diseases and parasitic diseases.
  3. Encompasses disorders of physiological systems (eg musculoskeletal systems, metabolic systems).
  4. Includes incapacities not coded and ill-defined conditions.

Clients granted a Sickness Benefit became more likely to have received a main benefit in the previous year

Between 2008/2009 and 2011/2012, the proportion of clients granted a Sickness Benefit who had received a main benefit in the previous 12 months increased from 48% to 57%.

Over the same period, the proportion who had not received a main benefit in the previous two years decreased from 43% to 35%.

Nearly one in five Sickness Benefit cancellations reflected entry to work

Just under one in five clients cancelling a Sickness Benefit moved directly into work, while another small number of work-ready clients transferred to Unemployment Benefits. A majority of clients cancelling these benefits did so because of a loss of medical coverage (including recovery from illness or incapacity) or because they were entering full-time study.