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Sick pay claimants reapply for handouts

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 24 Sep 2010, 13:06

Published: 24 Sep 2010 13:06 GMT+02:00

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In March alone 2,700 people were forced out of the system after their allocation for benefit days expired. But by June they were once again eligible, and a third have reapplied, with the figure likely to rise.

"It is probable that the figure will rise. It will come in at between 36 and 39 percent," said Mathias Johansson at the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan).

This estimate is in line with the 38 percent which the agency had expected would return from people forced out of the system under the terms of a reformed sickness benefit system introduced in July 2008.

Around 97-98 percent of those reapplying for sickness benefit are expected to be approved in due course, the report stated.

An increasing number of people are receiving rehabilitation training, according to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and the Regions (SALAR).

The number on multimodal rehabilitation (MMR) increased by 48 percent in the first half of 2010, compared to the same period 2009 and the number of treatments with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) increased by 36 percent.

"The results show that the county councils take the issue of rehabilitation very seriously. It is has been hard work to expand capacity so quickly," wrote Marianne Granath at SALAR in a statement.

Fredrik Reinfeldt's government came into power four years ago pledging to address the problem of a spiralling sick leave rate among Sweden's generally healthy population.

The reforms to sick benefits have resulted in a large number of people moving into work or training programmes. But the move has met with fierce criticism from the opposition who charge the centre-right Alliance with throwing sick people out of the insurance system and forcing them to seek work.

The reforms placed a limit on the time people could be on sick leave. People who have been on state sick benefits for more than 364 days within a 450 day period are now forced to either apply for work or training, or to seek lower sick benefits.

Story continues below…

The reform also includes the regular assessment of claimants' capacities against the labour market, with the first occurring after 90 days, then 180, and 365.

The issue came to a head just days before Sunday's election when Emelie Holmquist used her blog to highlight the case of her mother, Annica Holmquist, who suffers from the rare condition acromegaly, that causes body parts to grow uncontrollably.

Fredrik Reinfeldt was forced on the defensive in the final Sveriges Television party leader debate when asked to comment on the implications of the case.

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TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:56 September 24, 2010 by RobinHood
I never was much good at statistics, but does this mean two thirds of those claiming sickness benefits, and then subsequently disbarred from claiming them, have not reapplied?

Does that mean they suddenly all got well again?
18:37 September 24, 2010 by Ludwige
No, it only means that for some reason the remaining two thirds are not eligible to reapply at this moment. Could be work, studies, work training programs, or some other program where they get some kind of income.
20:41 September 24, 2010 by Rey Stockholm
Either people are sick or not, to claim the benefit you are supposed to be sick - how strange !

if they are on training, studies or other programmes they are preparing for work but not sick and should not be claiming.

Re the Holmquist comment above - anyone can uncover a single example to support a view but that does not change the underlying assumption of abuse of the systme
00:32 September 25, 2010 by dklones
We, have the same problem in the UK. And as a nation, we are too week to report others for cheating!
15:26 September 25, 2010 by Taxalien
It is hardly anywhere near like what it is in the UK. In the UK benefits are paid equally to everyone. Here it is paid according to your historical needs.

Sick pay is £79.15 / week. In some cases you will get a lot more, but that is based on an agreement made with your employer.

Here, sick pay is ~ £480 / week, or about £1927 per month.

Considering the changes Sweden is going through where a wide majority of workers over the last two to three decades have found that their profession is no longer in demand any more, what motivation do they have to find a new profession or to take a job that pays less than £1927 per month?

That is really what the problem is all about.
15:59 September 25, 2010 by hilt_m
Every third person you say? lol
16:44 September 25, 2010 by Kevin Harris
Not even Jesus cured this many people at once. This is either a miracle, or one of the biggest medical advances since penicillin. There's a Nobel prize in here somewhere; I'm just not sure if it's for medicine or economics.
20:27 September 25, 2010 by mikewhite
It might be that some people have just given up, especially if suffering from depression or similar - you can't assume everyone signed up on invalidity is a scrounger.
10:39 September 26, 2010 by Jes
Is this a problem of English - - why does the Local refer to legitimate benefits as "handouts"?

But then , if @ dklones from UK thinks that their country is too "week" to report stuff , one has no choice but to smile about it
08:41 September 27, 2010 by Taxalien
See http://www.dn.se/ekonomi/50000-industrijobb-borta-efter-krisen-1.1177231

50000 people with a CV full of industry experience are now unemployed.

Most if not all will be enjoying full (maxed out) unemployment insurance.

Please explain why they would now retrain to become nursery, health care or social care workers which would pay less than what they are getting from unemployment benefit.

This is now costing Sweden 1 bn kr PER MONTH before taxes.
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