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UK decides that being old is bad enough without having to continuously prove disability

Editorial Staff

The UK's Department for Work and Pensions has announced that those who receive disability benefit will be relieved of the burden of frequent re-assessment once they reach retirement age. That's good news. Almost.

The new regime will mean that there will be a so-called "light touch" review every ten years.

But the issue surrounding the state pension age clouds an otherwise welcome announcement. These days, what used to be termed the "old age pension" is not only a shifting target but as it inexorably rises, it's catching up with life expectancy. A significant number won't reach their first ten year review.

The World Bank says that the UK's life expectancy has fallen for the first time. While the average for women remains unchanged at 82.9, the average for men has fallen to 79.2. That has reduced the average for all to 80.96.

For more than half a century, the retirement age for women has been 60 with their pensions being payable from their 60th birthday. For men it has been 65. Gradually, the age for women is increasing until it reaches 65. However, there are changes planned because the UK state pension fund is a Ponzi scheme and there are not enough payments in from younger members to cover the liabilities to older members. Already those born in 1955 have seen their pension date pushed back to 66 years but it's OK: you can still get a free bus pass in England when you are 65 (Londoners get one at 60 as do those in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland).

So as the pension age is pushed back (some estimates are that it will, ultimately, go somewhere beyond 70 years) those suffering the ravages of age resulting in disability will find themselves unable to use the "light touch" regime until they reach their pensionable age.

Nice, but no cigar.