Assessing work disability for social security benefits: international models for the direct assessment of work capacity

It has been argued that social security disability assessments should directly assess claimants’ work capacity, rather than relying on proxies such as on functioning. However, there is little academic discussion of how such assessments could be conducted. The article presents an account of different models of direct disability assessments based on case studies of the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, utilising over 150 documents and 40 expert interviews. It was found that direct disability assessment within social security is not just theoretically desirable, but can be implemented in practice. We have shown that there are three distinct ways that this can be done, each with different strengths and weaknesses. Further research is needed to clarify the costs, validity/legitimacy, and consequences of these different models.