• Sweden's news in English

Foreign-born denied benefits more frequently

TT/The Local/dl · 23 Feb 2011, 09:08

Published: 23 Feb 2011 09:08 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In reviewing statistics from Sweden's Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan), the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper found that last year one in three Swedish-born applicants had claims denied by the agency.

But applicants from Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey had their claims denied twice as often.

The newspaper also found that applicants born in Sweden had lower denial rates than foreign-born applicants, regardless of the latter's country of birth.

"It can't be ruled out that it stems from discrimination," the agency's Magdalena Brasch told DN.

Brasch had no explanation for the discrepancy, however, telling the newspaper that further research is needed to determine why the agency appears to favour people born in Sweden over those born abroad.

She theorised, however, that part of the explanation may be due to the high unemployment rates among the groups with high denial rates.

Generally speaking, the unemployed are overrepresented among those who have their claims denied, according Brasch.

Another theory but forward by Hasan Dölek, chair of the National Turkish Association (Turkiska riksförbundet), is a lower level of Swedish comprehension among foreign-born applicants.

Story continues below…

"Försäkringskassan has a huge number of forms and it's not easy to know how everything should be filled in and what all the rules entail. Sometimes we have to help our members to fill in the forms," he told the newspaper.

He agreed that the agency is guilty of "some form" of discrimination, but admitted it was hard to specify exactly what sort.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

08:05 February 23, 2011 by calebian22
1. It is just as likely that scammers are over represented in the foreign born applicants as it is racism from the agency.

2. It is not discrimination if the applicant doesn't understand the forms or the Swedish explanation from a worker at the agency. That is the applicant's fault for spending 4 years in SFI without learning anything, not the fault of the agency.

Sweden is too quick to jump to the conclusion that it is to blame. On the other hand, bigotry does exist in Sweden. So, maybe....
08:28 February 23, 2011 by UScitizen
It's definately NOT discrininaton against only muslims as some will comment later.

"The newspaper also found that applicants born in Sweden had lower denial rates than foreign-born applicants, regardless of the latter's country of birth."

So it happens to us Americans, Canadians, Brits, and others.

I understand the deal about filling in the forms. Back in the US I donated blood every 56 days and thought I could be a regular blood donor here. Although there was a blood shortage, they refused to let me donate because I couldn't read and speak Swedish.

That's the rules here. So someone may have died needing a blood transfusion because the government wouldn't take my blood until I could read the consent form and say Ja or nej instead of yes or no.
09:16 February 23, 2011 by lux.veritas
I was born in a European country (of European family decent), am a passport holder, have worked and paid taxes in Europe since employed. I choose to be in Sweden because I love my Swedish girlfriend and have not had a permanent position in three years.

I have part time work occasionally, pay taxes, taxed whenever I consume. I have no rights to income support when there is no work for me.

I am not lazy, I am not uneducated and am not inexperienced. The hypocrisy and lies of this or any other infirm state-corporation sicken me. A misguided nationalist or proudly programmed patsy can say what they believe is their free thinking opinion; such as 'you can always leave'. The state never gives anything for free, either way somehow, you always pay.

I will not leave as long as my girlfriend loves and wants me here. The state does not give a crud about Swedes or foreigners we are their tax cattle, so wake the fudge up. Government legalised initiation of aggression with the use of any tools makes billions and lies about the misuse of your/ our revenue generation.

People may think that the global protests are programmed sheeple, extremists and all other kinds of crap. We may be easily misled, but even the most IQ challenged person is NO FOOL. People are angry for a reason. They cannot afford an acceptable standard of living and see that they are being robbed blind and given crap as quality by state-corporation, they do not believe terror, resource, climate and economic deceptions.

My enemy is no brown, yellow or white skin, turban wearing, sari, kaftan, kilt, Sikh, Muslim, Shinto, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu or shaman. Prey to the sky, earth, sun east west north or south, they are all human and my brothers, whether they choose or think they are or not. I have found open doors, honesty and acceptance in places where the TV programmed see demons.

Peace, abundance, wisdom, knowledge to all; even the blind that are incapable of comprehending the thread of truth within this comment.

The Local profanity barometer is all screwed up, ha ha. As Marlom Brando said in Apocalypse now, paraphrase…you can murder for the state and commit all kinds of crimes but you cannot write a sexual act on your bomber. You can't smoke a cigarette sleep with a prostitute, get drunk, but you can carpet bomb a fishing village.
10:15 February 23, 2011 by Luke R D
@ lux.veritas

Amen to that, brother; amen to that.
10:54 February 23, 2011 by foxpur
I was born in the USA, but I have suffered a near fatal Stroke. Yet I have to BUG and crawl just to get 1200:- a month in benefits. Yes, not being a Swedish birn is noticed.
11:32 February 23, 2011 by johnny1939
@lux.veritas & fowpur you guys made a choice not to live in your own country and have an easier time in getting just benefits. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. I have never had any problems getting benefits in either Sweden or the US. Maybe you have a language problem in Sweden? Don't give up. You can always sue for discrimination that usually gets attention.
13:05 February 23, 2011 by muscle
Hmmm (ok here comes a list :P) Me and many of my friends, come from Asian countries, including Pakistan India etc. You dont have to be a genius in filling the forms... it requires just common sense! I hate it when people say that this is racism and stuff! I was always acknowledged for my efforts and hard work. I was selected over Sweds and other europeans numerous times in my work. My asian friends are working, in not only government organizations but also private ones, as managers and have been made appriciated for their efforts, be they muslims or christians or anyone!

Thing that I hate is when somebody comes and say Sweden is filled with racism! Yes there might in some cases, but I can not say SWEDEN, in general. It would be completely wrong!!

Based upon my experience, you need to be hard-working, respect the work place GOOD rules and customs, intelligent... then there is no one who will deny you your right of anykind!

As for these benefits, yes many times my friends were denied benefits... but it was because of some improper reasons or errors they made in filling the forms!
13:25 February 23, 2011 by Jes
Yes , there are lazy racists working for försäkringskassan . Not knowing the Swedish language is simply a convenient excuse . Any one qaulified for the job , should be able to detect it when the applicant does not fill the right form , the right way . When it so noticed that the applicant may loose what is due to them , it is a professional obligation to avail the necessary guidence to the applicant , I would think .

In this case , professionalism is usually substuted by bigotry . Unfortunately , this quietly happens a lot in Sweden. I am not surprised that this has come to light .
14:19 February 23, 2011 by Syftfel
I don't belive this story. Or it is missing detail. Especially not since it comes from liberal DN. My opinion is that this but another propaganda trick by MfS(Ministerium für Staatsicherheit(The Swedish equivalent of)) to indoctrinate us by using questionable statistics to get us to beleive that we should increase welfare and social programs even more, i.e. raise taxes. This story can only benefit socialists and the open borders pack. Unfortunately Swedish media are infested with lefties with only one agenda, promoting socialism, and this story fits them just fine. Just don't tell the whole truth. - Yes, Jes, I'm talking to you.
14:30 February 23, 2011 by anony1
the idea about the lack of swedish language comprehension among foreign borns is related in my opinion.

I remember, going to dentist last year, forsakning sent me a letter and i didn't understand even where it was from last year, and didn't sign up, it ended up me spending 3000 :- more on dentist but at least I am free of all those Swedes complaining their taxes being spent on we students who even can't get a job here!
14:52 February 23, 2011 by UScitizen
@ muscle you said:

"You dont have to be a genius in filling the forms... it requires just common sense!"

then you said:

"many times my friends were denied benefits... but it was because of some improper reasons or errors they made in filling the forms! "

Maybe you should help your "asian friends (who) are working, in not only government organizations but also private ones, as managers" learn how to fill out the forms so they are no longer denied benefits.

I would think people in those positions shouldn't have a problem filling out these forms.
15:20 February 23, 2011 by muscle
@USCitizen: If the world had been so perfect then we wouldnt have been having any problems arising due to misinterpretation!

Any one can make mistakes if he or she is not paying attention. So did they! But the point is, it is not enough to blame someone in being racist!
15:21 February 23, 2011 by johnny1939
I still will never understand why people like to move to Sweden. The climate is horrible and the people are not that nice. Just compare w/ Americans, Australians etal. If I were a foreigner I would rather live in one of those countries....I would never pick Sweden. I have always found Sweden a rather depressing country w/ a lot of very silly laws and regulations.
15:33 February 23, 2011 by muscle
@Johnny1939: We can never stop movement of population from one place to other. This has been going on since the beginning of time.In the recent history, the british going to asia, britian going to now US, chinese moving to austrailia, sweden-denmark-ussr moving here and there.. all in search of resources be it materialistic or knowledge!
15:44 February 23, 2011 by UScitizen
@ muscle

It may not be racism as we understand the word but a majority of people in every country wil help "their own kind" more than they will help foreigners. It's just human nature to gravitate towards, trust, and try to help those who are just like us.
15:52 February 23, 2011 by muscle
@USCitizen: Yes exactly! I agree with you.
16:03 February 23, 2011 by UScitizen
@ muscle

I hope you're enjoying Sweden as much as I am. My son was sent to Tokyo by his company a few years ago. He felt overwhelmed by the size of the city and the mass of humanity, but everyone treated him in a wonderful manner. He loved it.
16:14 February 23, 2011 by muscle
@USCitizen: Yes, and it is my and all of my friends belief if you are good, and not different (not talking about appearance or faith, but in norms and customs related to work practices etc.) every one treats you equally and nicely. Perhaps, there might be one or two cases where it is not true, but in general I find the people here really helpful.
16:34 February 23, 2011 by iona
I am 77 years old with some medical problems. I have private insurance in the US plus medicare. So it is not the desire for medical service in Sweden. But I would like to die in a civilized country like Sweden or Scotland. My question is: would I be denied medical treatment in Sweden if I moved there?
18:15 February 23, 2011 by TIMBER
johnny1939 #13. You must live around by me somewhere. The animal inspectors took my pet pig because it had cold ears, im not sure how they could tell. The sensable thing to do would be to call a vet, but took it away and killed it. they said i can appeal, nice. So some times the goverment employed can have to much power with no responsibility. We farmed in the uk for over 40 years. Tolerant sweden, we are still looking.
18:23 February 23, 2011 by bobby14
Racism exists in Sweden and sorry to say so does coruption... I am Canadian/Swedish and worked in Sweden for 2 years and was injured at work on my job... It was ruled a work injury, BUT, försäkringskassan has made it more and more difficult for me to earn my Life Annuity and keeps coming up with new reasons not to pay me even though we have been fighting this case in the Swedish courts for over 6 years... We win each and every time and försäkringskassan then changes their argument with the sole purpose of not living up to their obligation... I am an invalid due to the accident and can no longer work at my job and for that matter most jobs would be difficult for me... försäkringskassan has totaly lied, made false representations and on one occassion told me that I would never receive my Life Annuity because I have been arguing with them for so long... and mostly because I no longer live in Sweden... My injury is permanent and it happened in Sweden and Sweden, försäkringskassan and the court system seems to have no compassion or intention of making restitution regarding my case... I am white, Canadian and speak Swedish, I hold a Swedish passport but was born in Canada and my lawyer and I feel that my case is being handled differently because of this... my lawyer has stated on more than one occassion that he is amazed that försäkringskassan and the courts are treating me so differently than a Swedish born citizean... you tell me this is not Raceism...
19:18 February 23, 2011 by countrysidedrive
I have no problems with Swedes or Sweden. With that said I know that the average person is not happy with all the foreigners. So they do not help the foreigner any more than is mandatory . They can and will if they like you. But if they do not to bad for you.

I am curious why the government does not represent the people. Does it have to do with money. They need all the new people to increase the economy to increase profits. Standard business principle.

If only Swedes had more children and didn't move to other lands. Hell there are more Swedes in other lands by a ten fold then in Sweden.


I am a foreigner so I understand the problem. Do I like how foreigners are treated. NO. But I do commend Sweden. They do a lot better than most other countries. Perfect not at all but a lot better.
20:12 February 24, 2011 by technoviking
It's probably some combination of language issues, unscrupulous foreigners trying to scam the system more and legitimate racism, the latter two surely feeding each other...

But I'm sure it will be blamed solely on racism.
02:06 February 25, 2011 by rise
@ bobby14

I won't say anything about racism or corruption other than that I'm sure both exists in some way. However I can tell you that not only foreigners can be very badly treated by Försäkringskassan. And here's why: Fourteen years ago I was in a car accident and nearly died. My girlfriend and a childhood friend did die.

Since that accident I'm an invalid as you apparently are. And approximately every second year I have to fill new forms to get benefits, with new papers from the doctors who are writing the same things every time, so I can afford to buy food and have some place to live. I have to repeat the tragedy and remember everything in my head for the new forms every second year. And not only bare the physical injures I now live with. There have been times when I've been suicidal because of this, not ever letting me forgive so I can better heal myself... but I'm not going to give them the pleasure of me being dead just like the others in the accident just so they don't have to help me any more.

I am white, tall and blond, blue eyes, born in Sweden and have lived here all my life. Racism? No. However I am only but a little plaything of some sort in the eyes of the politicians who may seem to bother about me only if they're seeing a chance to get votes and stay in power.
15:46 March 13, 2011 by helveeta
It should be this way, as immigrants, our families never paid into taxes, therefore we shouldn't have as many rights. We're immigrants! We left our homelands for whatever reasons. END OF STORY!
Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Isis claims unremarked arson attack in Malmö
The arson attack took place on Norra Grängesbergsgatan in Malmö. File photo: Emil Langvad/TT

An arson attack in Malmö that caused only minor damage and was barely reported in the media has been claimed by terror group Isis.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available