Published Monday, 26 March 2012
Those found to be capable of working are now receiving Jobseekers Allowance. (© Getty)
All 76,000 recipients of the allowance, which is given to those not medically able to hold down a job in Northern Ireland, are being reviewed.
The evidence so far shows dramatic results.
More than 2,000 claimants have already been judged work capable, while further 4,262 were deemed to have some capability
When that process is complete, around one in six of those on incapacity benefit will not be able to move on to its replacement, the Employment and Support Allowance.
One charity has an explanation as to how the authorities have been able to declare those previously judged unable to work now in a position to take up a job.
"They have done that arguably by making the medical test harder," Kevin Higgins, from Advice NI, told UTV.
"In our view, too harsh so I think the figures are just bearing out and a harsher medical test, not that people aren't fit for work, not that people don't have problems, it is simply the barriers are arguably too high."
Of those who have been found fit for work, 1,368 have appealed against the decision. In 97 cases the appeal has been upheld in their favour.
Welfare rights adviser Agnes Fraser says the new testing system is too strict and over complicated.
"We would deal with 400 enquiries per month, 50% of those enquiries would be in around employment and support allowance.
"We find that over 90% of people who present at our office, who have been for their medical, come in here and they would have zero points from the medical that was carried out," she explained.
Ms Fraser says the system is not working.
She said around 75% of the people they put through the appeal system are successful.
But the Social Development Minister says he has no plans to change tack.
Nelson McCausland said: "The current system is clearly in need of reform because it was leaving people year after year on incapacity benefit with no support or intervention.
"The fact is 80% of people on incapacity benefit are on it for more than four years."
Everyone in the region who is currently in receipt of Incapacity Benefit - as well as Severe Disablement Allowance or Income Support paid on the grounds of incapacity - will have to take part in the Work Capability Assessment programme.
The DUP minister said the process is expected to be completed by March 2014.
© UTV News