• Sweden edition
 
Tanya endures six-month wait for jobless benefits

Tanya endures six-month wait for jobless benefits

Published: 17 Nov 2009 13:11 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Nov 2009 15:42 GMT+01:00

More than six months after Tanya Martyn learned she would be out of a job due to the bankruptcy of her Malmö-based employer, she has yet to receive proper benefits from her unemployment insurance fund (a-kassa).

Martyn had been employed full-time since 2006 with Mubito, a media company specializing in building direct-to-consumer web platforms for musicians and record labels.

But in April she was told that Mubito was going bankrupt and her job as a project manager would come to an end as of June 1st.

As she wasn’t enrolled in an unemployment insurance programme at the time, Martyn immediately contacted Alfakassan, a fund not affiliated with any union and open to employees in all sectors.

“They told me to contact them again in two months when I was officially out of a job,” Martyn told The Local.

When June came around and Martyn had worked her last day with Mubito, she promptly filed the necessary paperwork with Alfakassan.

As Martyn had not been a member of the fund for at least 12 months prior to filing her first claim, she was only entitled to receive Alfakassan’s universal basic insurance benefits, which amount to about 320 kronor ($46) per day for a full-time employee.

After a month went by without any word from Alfakassan, Martyn contacted them to check on the processing of her claim.

“They told me it would be at least 12 to 14 weeks before anyone even reviewed my application,” she explained.

“It was a real shock.”

Frustration then set in when Martyn heard why Alfakassan needed so much time to process her application.

“They just said that they were overwhelmed with applications due to the high unemployment numbers and simply didn’t have enough people to review the applications any faster,” she said.

“I asked them, ‘How am I supposed to survive? I have bills to pay.’ They basically told me it was my problem and that they couldn’t help me.”

Martyn’s case is far from unique. According to recent statistics from the Swedish Unemployment Insurance Board (IAF), the wait times at several a-kassa funds have ballooned in recent months.

According to IAF, average wait times to receive income replacement payments have increased to eight weeks, one week longer than members had to wait one year ago.

The average wait time for basic unemployment insurance payments, meanwhile, has jumped to 19 weeks, up 11 weeks since last year.

But the wait times at Alfakassan are among the longest of all Sweden’s unemployment insurance programmes.

According to the most recent statistics from IAF, more than half of the applications for basic unemployment insurance benefits filed with Alfakassan remain unprocessed after five months.

Even after six months, 25 percent of Alfakassan claims have yet to be processed, according to IAF.

Ironically, Martyn should consider herself one of the lucky ones, as she did actually receive her first payment from Alfakassan after waiting 13 weeks.

However, the amount of the benefit payment was about 15 percent less than is should have been.

Martyn has since appealed the decision, and one month later was informed that could expect to wait another 11 weeks for her request to be processed.

In the meantime, Alfakassan neglected to issue Martyn's benefits payment for the following month of October.

"When I called there were a lot of excuses, but they promised me they would include the money for October in my November payment," she said.

While spokesperson Ulf Björklund regrets that many of Alfakassan’s members have had to endure lengthy wait times, he said that measures taken earlier in the year, including the hiring of 100 additional staff members, have gone a long way toward cutting wait times.

“We’ve certainly had long wait times, longer than we would have hoped for,” he told The Local.

“But now if we get in a new, complete application, we’re able to process it in about five weeks.”

He added that the figures from IAF are somewhat inflated because they are calculated from when a person first registers with the National Public Employment Office (Arbetsförmedlingen).

“From there, it may take weeks or even months before someone sends us their benefits application,” said Björklund.

Processing times are also lengthened because up to 90 percent of the applications received by Alfakassan are incomplete or require additional documentation.

Björklund admits that Alfakassan was caught unawares by the wave of joblessness which hit Sweden in the wake of last year’s financial crisis, adding that its mission to be “the a-kassa of last resort” means it receives applications from people who lose their jobs and don’t have any other unemployment insurance.

“A lot of these people aren’t very well established in the job market which can make their applications rather complicated to process,” he said.

So far, Martyn and her husband have managed to make ends meet without additional funds from Alfakassan.

“If it weren’t for our savings, we’d have had to move out and find a cheaper place to live,” she said.

“Now the money I should have received in June to help with expenses during unemployment won’t be paid until at least the end of January. It’s put a real strain on my family.”

The entire episode has also soured Martyn on Sweden’s oft-praised social welfare system.

“I’m really disappointed. Everyone talks about Sweden having this great social safety net, we pay a lot of taxes and I was expecting to be taken care of when I lost my job,” she said.

“It’s not really insurance is it?”

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

14:54 November 17, 2009 by krow
That means we better save ourselves the trouble by pulling out of any insurance whatever, than having force hope.
17:02 November 17, 2009 by izbz
Alfakassa when it comes to paying them, must be always on the dot, when it comes to pay out......takes at least 6 months or more, zillions of questions asked, zillion paperwork to fill in. Excuses: not enough documents supplied to them, short of staffs, computer f¤%%#- up and etc. etc. Usually hard to get them on the damn phone. Am a member of alfakassa, never know what happen in the future, lucky I am employed by a very secure company. But still dare not cancel my membership.

Hotel and Restuarant Union worse of the worse, cancelled my membership for that. They really don't give two hoots to what happen to members except good in collecting money from the members.

I suggest members should always keep a copy of every correspondences with Alfakassa,

'usually the left hand don't know the right hand is doing' (chinese proverb). Keep a copy and let them bite their own tongue.
02:08 November 18, 2009 by tigger007
work is getting hard to find all over. i have noticed that sweden doesn't really give good tax right-offs for companies who create jobs in sweden. WHY? giving people more money on their pay checks is fine,but giving companies a tax break for creating jobs is better.
08:29 November 18, 2009 by ugg
Interesting comment..."we pay a lot of taxes and I was expecting to be taken care of when I lost my job," she said.' ummm your taxes don't pay for everything.
09:39 November 18, 2009 by Streja
Why didn't she join the a-kassa i the first place 12 months ago? Doesn't she know that no tax money goes towards a-kassa? It's an insurance, she didn't bother getting it and now she is pissed off?
10:14 November 18, 2009 by "green Swede"
yeah streja,am I missing something too,she wasn't a payed up member of any akassa but she still got 320kr a day,makes me wonder why I payed hundreds a month for ten years to get less than 500kr a month,strange.
10:53 November 18, 2009 by ugg
@green swede and @Streja

Couldn't agree with you more.

Nice that she has been paid.

"Ironically, Martyn should consider herself one of the lucky ones, as she did actually receive her first payment from Alfakassan after waiting 13 weeks"

I'm still waiting to be paid (16 weeks) and after being a member for 5 years...the word priority comes to mind.
17:31 November 20, 2009 by tommycapes
@ tigger

here here,

the swedish government is killing their countries economy. leaving communism but not quite embracing capitalism and allowing it to flourish. they need to decide.

As for the whole a-kassan thing. get a job, you are not owed a living you have to work for it.
00:10 November 21, 2009 by "green Swede"
sorry that should be less than 500kr a day.And as for "owed a living" I payed high taxes for ten years in this country and unlike the dole you contribute extra to a kassa,687kr per mth in fact.
09:49 November 22, 2009 by theredskipper
i've heard about so many people who decided to forego unemployment insurance and are now scrambling because they've lost their jobs and have no money coming in. really, thats lesson number one in money management. you should always have a cushion in case you lose your job. i really don't understand why she wasn't part of an unemployment insurance plan while she had a job so that it would kick in precisely in this eventuality. it's unfortunate, but she should have planned for this. i also love how this article only lightly touches on that subject. i guess it would be cruel and bad journalism to obviously use this woman as a cautionary tale.
17:26 November 22, 2009 by Alannah
I was in the same situation 3 years ago long before this recession started. Nobody explained how the A-kassa worked when I moved to Sweden - not my company's HR manager, my boss nor any of my friends, I assumed that if I ever became unemployed, the 60% taxes I paid during my employment would cover unemployment assistance ...given that around 25-30% of these taxes are for social welfare payments.

When I became unemployed, Alfakassan told me to sell my apartment first before I was entitled to any unemployment assistance. Great! Given the fact that it is impossible to rent long-term in Stockholm, they seriously expected that on top of losing my job unexpectedly I should also sell the roof over my head.

To be honest, I really wonder what we pay such high taxes for in Sweden ... aside from the maternity leave and subsidized kindergarten, I don't see any other social benefits from the system. Swedes always say medical care is free but a visit to the dentist costs money as does a visit to the Cityakuten or doctor.
Today's headlines
Sport
Sweden's star striker Zlatan 'recovering well'
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Sweden's top scorer in history. PHOTO: TT/Maja Suslin

Sweden's star striker Zlatan 'recovering well'

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is recovering well from the nagging heel problem that has stopped him playing for Sweden during its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. READ  

International
Swedish sisters create viral Syria stir
A shot from the video on YouTube.

Swedish sisters create viral Syria stir

Two sisters from Södertälje near Stockholm are celebrating getting more than 1.3 million hits on YouTube, with a video calling for peace in war-torn Syria. READ  

Pirate Bay
Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison
A 2013 image of Svartholm Warg. Photo: TT

Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison

Swedish "hactivist" Gottfrid Svartholm Warg has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for hacking crimes. READ  

Royal family
Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback
Princess Madeleine at a previous Nobel banquet. Photo: TT

Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback

Sweden's Princess Madeleine is scheduled to appear at the Nobel Festival in Stockholm in December, after taking time out from her royal duties to focus on looking after her daughter. READ  

Politics
'We knew that Israel would be critical'
Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (left), with Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

'We knew that Israel would be critical'

Sweden's Foreign Minister has told The Local she respects Israel's decision to recall its ambassador after Sweden officially recognized the State of Palestine, and laughed off comments about IKEA furniture made by her Israeli counterpart. READ  

Analysis
'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'
Doctors say we should make the most of the autumn sunshine. Photo: Shutterstock

'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'

Spending time outdoors this autumn will help you survive a cold, dark Swedish winter. Baba Pendse, Head of Psychiatry at Lund University shares his top tips for battling the seasonal blues with The Local. READ  

Sports
Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid
Skiers hit the slopes in Åre, western Sweden. Photo: TT

Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid

Norwegian sports officials have said they want to co-host the winter Olympics with Sweden in 2026. But there has so far been no official response from Sweden. READ  

National
Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court
Photo: TT

Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court

A teenage boy who painted anti-Israel slogans and symbols on the Concert Hall in Gothenburg has been convicted for the damages he caused, but he walked free from racial agitation charges. READ  

Entertainment
A closer look at Sweden's rising stars
Swedish actresses Sandra Huldt and Julia Ragnarsson. Julia (right) has been nominated for a Rising Star award. Photo: TT

A closer look at Sweden's rising stars

Like to be ahead of the game when it comes to the next big thing on the silver screen? We find out more about the Swedish nominees for the Rising Star award to be presented at Stockholm's International Film Festival next week. READ  

Science
Swedish women in two-year sex pill study
Contraceptive pills have been linked to mood swings. Photo: Shutterstock

Swedish women in two-year sex pill study

Three hundred women from across Sweden are taking part in a study designed to demonstrate that modern contraceptive pills don't lead to decreased libido or mood swings. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
Sport
Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
Blog updates

31 October

Editor’s Blog, October 31st (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Welcome to our latest 60-second round-up of the week’s news. First, Sweden made headlines around the..." READ »

 

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

982
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN