To study effects of restricting eligibility criteria for disability pension in Norway 1991.
Documents of 288 applicants from 1990 and 1993 in one county were analysed for social and medical variables as well as for the determination and its causes.
Incidence of applications for disability benefits during a three-month period was 223 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1990. The focused group of 'medically imprecise' musculoskeletal diagnoses concerned 26% of all applicants, while 'precise' musculoskeletal diagnoses were given to 15%, 'imprecise' psychiatric diagnoses to 7% and 'precise' ones to 6%. The number of applicants fell by 39%, surprisingly about the same in all social and diagnostic groups. Denial rate increased from 8% to 21%. Denials mostly struck women, middle-aged, those living alone, those with short education, and applicants with 'medically imprecise' diagnoses.
Restriction of disability benefits affected applicants with the least resources the hardest, and seems to contribute to the on-going process of marginalizing the weaker part of the population.