More than a third of the 1.3million people who applied for Employment and Support Allowance were found to be fully capable of working, while a similar proportion abandoned their claims while they were still being processed.
Some were found to be capable of holding down a job with the right help while only 7 per cent of applicants were deemed too ill to carry out any work, including cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy; the terminally ill; and the severely disabled.
Charities claim the bar has been raised too high for seriously ill people to claim out-of-work benefits and point out that many decisions are overturned on appeal.
But the Work and Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, said: “These figures show that many people are able to work with the right help.
“We have strengthened the support now available, tailoring it to individual needs so they can overcome whatever barriers they face.