Search Legislation

Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999


Entitlement to incapacity benefits is dependent on satisfying one of two tests of incapacity for work set out in legislation.

  • The ‘Own Occupation Test’ normally applies for the first 28 weeks of incapacity, for those with a recent work record. The test assesses the claimant’s ability to do their usual job, based on medical evidence from their GP.

  • The ‘All Work Test’ applies after 28 weeks of incapacity for those with a recent work record and from the start of the claim in all other cases. It is a functional test which assesses the claimant’s ability to perform a wide range of activities.

The benefits which depend on satisfying the test of incapacity for work are Incapacity Benefit (IB); Severe Disablement Allowance (which is abolished for new claimants by section 65); Income Support; the disability premiums in Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit; and, in addition to these benefits, National Insurance credits awarded on grounds of incapacity.

The consultation paper A new contract for welfare: SUPPORT FOR DISABLED PEOPLE (Cm 4103) gave a commitment to reform the All Work Test, by changing it so that, as well as establishing the level of people’s incapacity for work for benefit purposes, it provides information which will be potentially helpful to claimants and their personal advisers, in combination with a wider assessment of employability, to decide what might be done to assist a return to work.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

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.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources