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Investigation Reveals Troubling Issues in Dutch Disability System: Long Wait Times, Income Disparity, and Challenges for Young Disabled People


NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 08:34

The Dutch disability system squeaks and creaks. The queues for inspections are long, the rules are complicated and many sick people live below the subsistence minimum.

It cannot continue like this, everyone involved believes. That is why the cabinet commissioned a committee to investigate how things should be done differently. This afternoon they will present possible solutions.

Last year, the Independent Disability System Commission (Octas) produced an interim report, which listed a whole host of problems. What are the most important problems for which the committee is looking for solutions?

Long wait for an inspection

The waiting times for the WIA (Work and Income (Capacity for Work) Act) are long. You can make use of a WIA benefit under certain conditions if you have been ill for more than two years. The UWV must decide on an application for such a benefit within eight weeks, but in practice this can take up to nine months. Long-term ill people are therefore in financial uncertainty for a long time.

For example, Karen van Wijngaarden reported sick in October 2020 due to a heart condition, but she has still not received a definitive answer. Almost two years later she had her first inspection. “After that, I appealed several times against various decisions,” she says. “Now it won’t be my turn again until September this year. That is almost four years after my first report of illness.”

Van Wijngaarden also has to deal with a rule that is shocking to many people in the WIA: at a certain point your benefit is no longer based on the last earned wage, but on the minimum wage. For many people, this means that the benefit will be a lot lower from then on.

For Van Wijngaarden, that moment has now arrived. “From this month onwards, I will only receive 250 euros per month, while my objection to my degree of disability due to the long queue is still ongoing. That is a problem for the UWV, but all financial consequences are now mine.”

High incomes are ‘more incapacitated’

People with low incomes are twice as likely to receive no benefits compared to high incomes. This is due to the way in which it is calculated how incapacitated you are. Not only is the number of hours you can still work taken into account, but also the income you lose. Low incomes are therefore more likely to fall below the 35 percent disability limit. And below 35 percent you will not receive a WIA benefit.

An example:

Suppose two people with the same disease can both still earn 1,350 euros. But their salary was different before their illness: person A earned 5,000 euros and B 2,000 euros.

According to the calculation rules of the UWV, A will then have a 73 percent loss of wages and B about 33 percent. A therefore receives a WIA benefit. Person B doesn’t.

Young disabled people are left out

Since 2015, young disabled people can only receive benefits from the Wajong (Work and Employment Support for Young Disabled Persons Act) if they can never work again. The rest of the disabled young people fall under the Participation Act.

There they have to deal with the strict rules of social assistance. For example, they are obliged to apply for a job, they are not allowed to stay abroad for too long and they must declare all their additional income. Anyone who lives with a partner is not entitled to the benefit at all.

According to the committee, an estimated 50,000 young disabled people do not apply for benefits for these reasons. They are therefore out of the picture. The suspicion is that they are completely dependent on the help of family, or end up in crime.

Even those who try to work under the Participation Act have a hard time. “I have to settle my income every month,” says Esmée Kroon. “I once put an amount in the wrong place and immediately did not receive any benefits for a month. This makes it a much more unsafe benefit than the Wajong.”

She is also allowed to keep less of her earnings. “I now have 15 percent of my salary left, which amounts to about 160 euros per month,” says Kroon. “Under the Wajong, your benefit is higher and you can also keep 30 percent of your other income.”

It is not only young disabled people who have these problems. There is also a group of disabled self-employed persons who can only claim social assistance because they are not entitled to the WIA and did not have their own disability insurance when they became ill.

A lot depends on your contract

If an employee becomes ill, in many cases the employer is partly responsible for reintegration. Especially people who had a permanent contract often return to work for their employer. They then do other work and supplement their lower income with benefits.

Another group, such as temporary workers and unemployed people who become ill, rely on the UWV for their reintegration. But according to the committee, the UWV’s guidance is inadequate. The quality does not even meet the standards that the UWV itself sets for employers. And so relatively many people from this group end up in the WIA.

2024-02-29 07:34:36
#Long #waits #benefits #disabled #people #trouble

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