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Agency to cancer victim: 'go to social services'

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Agency to cancer victim: 'go to social services'
11:13 CET+01:00
A young Swedish mother, recently diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, was told by National Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan), that she was not eligible for sickness benefits.

“I just don't get how they are thinking, it isn't as if I have a cold for a week. I can't look after my daughter as I can't even lift anything after the surgery,“ said Lisa Markstedt, 19, to daily Aftonbladet.

Markstedt graduated from high school at Christmas after being on parental leave with her infant daughter Selma since March. However, in the beginning of January, Lisa Markstedt was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery on the 23rd of the same month.

Following the operation awaited after-care and sick leave, but because Lisa didn't have time to work between school and parental leave, she was not eligible for any sickness benefits and was told she would receive no income at all.

“When I called them they simply said that you have to be registered as unemployed for six months to be eligible for benefits. Their advice was that I go to the social services,” she said to the paper.

Her husband, Kim, was therefore forced to go to work, although he is sorely needed at home looking after the couple's daughter.

“If it hadn't been for our lovely relatives who are always there for us we would never manage, we would have had to sell all our possessions” said Lisa to the paper.

At the moment, Lisa has transferred some of her parental leave days to her mother, who has taken time off work to mind Selma while Lisa recuperates from her cancer surgery and the after-treatment.

According to the Försäkringskassan rules, it is not possible to get sickness benefits if you haven't had a sickness benefit qualifying income (Sjukpenninggrundande inkomst- SGI).

“In the short term there are no benefits available as a person would have to have a sickness benefit qualifying income. And student grants or parental benefits don't count,” said Cecilia Udin of the agency to Aftonbladet.

Not until after a year of reduced work ability, Lisa might be eligible for activity compensation (aktivitetsersättning) which does not require an SGI.

“I am so young and haven't had time to work, I have just graduated from school. And now I am on sick leave until March, but I don't know how long the treatment will go on for,” said Lisa to the paper.

But according to the agency, the responsibility falls onto the local authorities. For Lisa, there is no other place to turn than social services for financial help.

However, she is determined to keep fighting and hopes that the sharing of her story might bring about a change in the system.

“Really I feel so sick that I don't have the strength to argue but you have to dare put your foot down so that there might be a change,” she told Aftonbladet.

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