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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999

5.Long Term Illness and Disability

The measures in the Act

Following consultation, the Government legislated to make the proposed changes. The measures in the Act that relate to incapacity and disability benefits are contained in Part V, sections 61-68, and Parts II and III of Schedule 8. The provisions implement all of the proposed changes in the consultation paper, apart from the Disability Income Guarantee and the expansion of specialist disability services, which do not require new primary legislation.

While the Bill was going through Parliament, the Government introduced an amendment to allow young disabled people to claim Incapacity Benefit up to the age of 25 in prescribed circumstances, without having to satisfy the contribution conditions. (The normal age limit proposed by the Government is age 20.) This extension is intended to benefit young disabled people in education or vocational training. The Government also announced that people receiving the higher-rate care component of Disability Living Allowance would not have their pension income taken into account in Incapacity Benefit.

The way in which Incapacity Benefit will be reduced to take account of pension income is now set out on the face of the Act. The Act ensures that the benefit will be reduced by 50p for every additional £1 of pension income that people receive above the first £85.

Section 68 was added in order to provide that certain overpayments of incapacity and disability benefits which arise before 1 June 1999 cannot be recovered from the recipient. This is intended to protect disabled people who could not reasonably be expected to know that their benefit entitlement was incorrect, for example due to a gradual improvement in their condition, or that they should have reported this change to the Benefits Agency.

The measures in the Act do not require any disabled people to look for work, if they do not want to. No existing claimants lose any benefit entitlement at the point of change.

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Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


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