Nowadays, work disability is one of the largest social and labour market challenges for policy makers in almost all OECD countries. Understanding of factors associated with long-term work disability may be helpful to identify groups of individuals at risk for disability benefit entitlement or continuing eligibility, and to develop effective interventions for these groups. The purpose of this study is to give insight into the main diagnoses of workers who qualify for disability benefit and how these diagnoses differ between age groups, gender and educational level. Moreover, using a 5 year follow-up period, we study the duration of the disability benefit and examine how durations differ between individuals with different characteristics.
Our study population consisted of 31 733 individuals receiving a disability benefit from the Dutch Social Security Agency (SSA). Data were collected from the databases of the SSA. Disorders were assessed by an insurance physician at application. We tested for differences in socio-demographics, main diagnoses and comorbidity for those entering and leaving disability benefits.
Mental disorders were most often registered as the main diagnosis for work disability. Diagnoses differed between age groups and educational level categories. For younger and higher educated individuals mental disorders was the main diagnosis for work disability, and for older and lower educated individuals physical disorders (mainly musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and cancer). Five years after approval, 82% still received disability benefits. Outflow was lowest for individuals with (multiple) mental disorders and individuals with comorbidity of mental and physical disorders, and highest for individuals with (multiple) physical disorders.