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Social security today is big business, accounting for nearly one-third of all public expenditure. Each week the government spends more than #1 billion on benefits and their administration. Decisions on claims for social security benefits affect millions of people annually, yet little is known about how such decisions are taken.;This book examines decision-making both in Department of Social Security local offices and at social security appeal tribunals. The authors' findings are based on over five hundred interviews with claimants, social security staff and tribunal chairmen and members, as well as on observation of over three hundred appeal hearings. This nation-wide study highlights the divergence between the way the system is meant to work and its operation in practice, and also questions whether the current emphasis within the social security system on procedural fairness masks the reality of the restrictive and rigid rules governing entitlement to benefit.