Thousands lose out on sickness benefits

Almost 4,400 Swedes lost their right to sickness benefits in the first half of 2009 as the Social Insurance Agency (Forsäkringskassan) tightened its regulations.

The figure is more than in the whole of 2008, new agency figures show, according to a report in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

The increase is due primarily to tighter regulations which stipulate that all those that have been registered sick for more than 180 days must have their capacity to work assessed in relation to the entire labour market.

This means that even if their doctor says that they are not capable of returning to their former position, the agency considers them able to seek other work.

The agency has not released any forecast for how many could lose their rights to sickness benefit by the end of the year. In June alone a further 1,000 people were told by the agency that they were capable of some form of gainful employment.

According to an anonymous DN source at the agency the new regime is especially tough on older claimants.

“It can be tough for the over 55s…We know how the labour market looks. It will improve later as those that get sick today know what’s what. For them there will be no sudden and unexpected assessment of sickness benefit.”

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