Research on Disability

Research on


International Disability Discussion

  • Dates: 03 Dec, 2013

The Secretary’s Innovation Group and co-sponsor Atlantic Council are pleased to invite you to a provocative discussion with five high-level Disability administrators and experts from Britain and Holland.

Date:              December 11th between 3:45 and 5:15PM

Location:      Hart Senate Office Building room SH-216.


The United Kingdom  updated its disability assessment in 2008.  Named the Work Capability Assessment, it has fewer categories of exemptions from work and gauges the degree to which an individual’s disabilities prevent work.  In addition, the Universal Credit, which is  being rolled out countrywide now, is an integrated working-age credit which supersedes multiple eligibility processes for separate social welfare programs, including disability programs, so as to assure that working always results in higher income up and down the wage scale.

Joining us from the UK will be Mr. Iain Walsh, Deputy Director of Working Age Benefits, who oversees disability programs at the Department of Work and Pensions;  and Mr. Mark Swindells from the private office of State Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.  Topics these two will cover will include:

  • The use of third party independent health care professionals to make determination assessments based on functional work capacity, rather than primarily medical evidence.

  • Reforms to the appeals process that increase the acceptance of initial determinations.

  • Results from re-assessments of long term disability recipients.

Also joining us from the UK is Mr. Stephen Brien, former chief policy advisor to the State Secretary for Work and Pensions.  Mr. Brien was a key designer of the UK Universal Credit. 

The Netherlands has made a series of changes to its disability programs from 2004 to the present representing a fundamental shift.   Formerly termed “the sick man of Europe” for its high percentage of working age population categorized as disabled,  the Netherlands has reversed its institutional incentives.  Now under proper alignment, work reintegration is the common outcome of interest to all parties - - employees, employers and government.

For the first two years after a disabling event, employers are responsible for disability payments and back-to-work efforts, and firms’ disability tax is experience rated (similar in concept to workers’ compensation) to encourage reintegration rather than shifting costs to the public sector.  In addition the Netherlands bases the level of disability benefits on the severity and the permanency of recipient disability, modifying it after an assessment of work capacity at one year of benefit receipt. 

From the Netherlands, we will be joined by Dr. Philip de Jong, professor at the University of Amsterdam, and the acknowledged conceptual father of the Dutch disability reforms over the past fifteen years.   Also joining us is Mr. Marc Konings, the chief administrator of the Dutch disability system from the Department of Social Affairs and Employment.

Finally, Mr. Richard Burkhauser, Cornell University and author of The Declining Work and Welfare of People with Disabilities will comment on these international reforms in the American context.   

We look forward to a very interesting afternoon.  For questions please contact Michelle Hays, Secretary’s Innovation Group at;  414-906-1600.