“Diary of a Goldfish” has an excellent post on Seven Myths about Incapacity Benefit, including “people on incapacity benefit are not assessed by a doctor”, “the 40% of people on Incapacity Benefit for mental health problems would be better off if they worked to keep their mind off their troubles”, and “there are loads of people defrauding the system”.

I used to feel quite defensive when people moaned about Incapacity Benefit but these days I just get very very angry. Every media story and every political statement made on this issue presumes that there is widespread fraud and “malingering”, where there is absolutely no evidence that this is the case. Of course fraud exists, as it undoubtedly does throughout the tax and benefit systems, but there is no evidence that it is widespread with IB. In fact, I struggled to find any up to date statistics about fraud at all.

But see, thing is, people on Incapacity Benefits include some of the most vulnerable people in society. We’re all made vulnerable by our dependence on the state and our relative poverty, but we’re also a crowd of duffers; people who don’t always have the intellectual, cognitive, physical or emotional capacity to fight their own corner.

Thus we make an excellent scapegoat. Of course, most of us are white British, so we’re not perfect, but if people are fed up with the amount of tax they pay (and people always are), it is a sure winner to point to us sponging cripples and declare that we’re not quite as crippled as we look (best of all, some of us don’t even look crippled, which is surely proof we’re on the make).

All very true and worth reading.

Talking about incapacity benefits these days is confusing, as the system has been changed for new applicants, and the processes for income support, incapacity, and the new ESA are all slightly different.

And the tests aren’t, as some insist, easy to pass. For instance, see Dr Tim Greenaway’s letter Failing the incapacity test to the Guardian, and this experience of a blogger with chronic fatigue.

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