More Swedes appeal sickness benefits denials

An increasing number of Swedes are appealing benefits claims that have been denied by the country's social insurance agency.

More Swedes appeal sickness benefits denials

In Västernorrland in northern Sweden, the number of appeals against decisions by the Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) increased by 60 percent in 2010 compared with 2009, while the increase averaged 35 percent nationwide.

Only one in five Swedes who took their denied benefits claims to court ended up winning their appeals.

“The explanation is legislation. Fewer people qualify for daily sickness allowance and the new rules for sickness compensation requires a continuous reduction in work capacity,” said Ylva Johansson, a judge with the administrative court in Härnösand in northern Sweden.

People who took their cases to court in the region fared slightly better than the national average, however, with one-third winning their cases in court, the local Tidningen Ångermanland newspaper reported.

In the past year, 19,385 appeals were filed in Sweden’s administrative courts, compared with 14,731 in 2009, according to figures from the Social Insurance Agency.

Before a decision can be appealed, it must first be reviewed by the agency. If the complainant remains dissatisfied after the agency’s review, the rejected claim can then be heard by the administrative court.

The number of claim denials reversed by the court dropped a few percentage points in 2010 compared to 2009 to around 20 percent.

Rulings can be appealed further to the administrative court of appeals, where the rate of reversal increased to 16 percent in 2010 compared to 14 percent in 2009.

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