Billions in benefits paid out in error

The Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) estimates that it paid out 16.4 billion kronor ($2.3 billion) too much in various benefits in 2009, according to a new analysis.

“Yes, it can sound like a massive amount,” said Ulrika Larsson at the agency to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

The newspaper reports that the high level of erroneous payments are for the most part accounted for by accidental errors from applicants, but that deliberate cheating and fraud have also made a significant contribution.

Those claiming sickness benefits were paid four billion kronor too much, according to the newspaper. The agency paid out an excess of 719 million kronor in housing benefit. Assistance payments were also identified as an area with a large number of errors in the analysis that has been submitted to the government.

Child benefit payments are however reported to have resulted in few instances of mistakes or fraud.

According to the agency, only a “fraction” of mistakes and fraud are uncovered in their routine checks and controls. The number of unrecorded cases is large, the agency admits.

“There is an element of uncertainty – we have not found any better method to establish the level of unrecorded cases, but we calculate that this is a well-founded judgement which is also in line with results from other countries,” Larsson told the newspaper.

Despite the apparent lack of tools to improve the situation, the various departments at the agency responsible for the benefit categories will review their routines to find ways to reduce errors and fraud. Among the measures under consideration are increasing information resources and amending application forms.

The Swedish Social Insurance Agency was responsible for payments totalling 470 billion kronor covering various social benefits and retirement pensions.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘Discount’ phone scammers steal thousands from elderly woman in Sweden

A 75-year-old woman in the Håbo municipality lost over 120,000 kronor (11,200 euros) on Friday after falling victim to a telephone scam.

'Discount' phone scammers steal thousands from elderly woman in Sweden
File photo: Anders Wiklund/ TT

The woman received a phone around lunchtime on Friday from a man who claimed he was calling from a telecommunications operator.

Following a method similar to others seen in telephone scams which target the elderly, the man is reported to have informed the woman that she had unused discounts and was required to log on to her online banking in order to activate them.

“He must have been persuasive, given that he convinced her to log on to her online bank,” Uppsala Police press spokesperson Linda Wideberg told Radio P4 Uppland, who reported the scam.

The incident is now being investigated as fraud, police said.

Other recent scams in Sweden have seen fake emails and text messages which purport to be from the Skatteverket tax authority. 

“Skatteverket will never ask for your account details via email or text message,” the tax agency said in a statement in June this year.