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Grieving mother denied sickness benefit

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Grieving mother denied sickness benefit
Sofie Karlsson named Heroic Mother of the Year at a ceremony in November 2009
14:19 CET+01:00
A Swedish court has ruled that 24-year-old Sofie Karlsson lost her right to sickness benefit by failing to register as unemployed the day after the cancer death of her infant son.

The Administrative Court of Appeal (Kammarrätten) on Tuesday ruled in favour of the Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan), which declined the woman's application for sickness benefit as she was neither in full-time employment nor registered at the National Public Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen).

The court thus overturned a county administrative court ruling finding in favour of Karlsson. The ruling had been appealed by the Social Insurance Agency.

The court explained in a statement on Tuesday that it fully understood her predicament and that she had not felt able to register at the agency the day after the death of her son, but that the rules clearly do not allow for any exceptions.

Sofie Karlsson's son Victor died after losing his battle with cancer at Uppsala University Hospital in April 2009. He was 18 months old.

While Victor fought cancer, Sofie Karlsson was only employed part-time and had no work planned for the two weeks at the centre of the court case, from April 15th-28th 2009.

As the grieving mother did not visit the local employment agency in person on April 15th to register for unemployment, and was not in receipt of any other formal benefits, she was not entitled to sickness benefit for the first 14 days.

"There is no legal possibility to award sickness benefit for the first 14 days," the court explained.

Until Victor was diagnosed with cancer, Sofie Karlsson had been at home with her son on parental leave. From then on she received "temporary parental benefit for care of a seriously ill child" (Tillfällig föräldrapenning vid vård av allvarligt sjukt barn). This benefit ended the day Victor died.

According to Social Insurance Agency regulations Sofie Karlsson was then classified as unemployed and was obliged to register at the local employment agency by the end of April 15th, the day after her son's death.

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