Finnish earnings-related pension insurers have recorded a sharp increase in disability pension applications following the introduction of the activation model for unemployment security on 1 January.
YLE on Sunday revealed that a pending disability pension application effectively protects the unemployed from the 4.65 per cent cut in unemployment benefits they would face if they failed to meet the activity criteria laid out in the much-criticised activation model.
The model stipulates that unemployed job seekers can satisfy the criteria by working at least 18 hours, earning at least 240 euros through self-employment or participating in activity measures for at least five days over a 65-day monitoring period. A failure to meet the criteria will result in a 4.65 per cent cut in unemployment benefits for the next 65-day period.
“The practice is that the activity requirement is not applied to people with a pending disability pension application,” Jukka Kivekäs, the senior physician at Varma, told YLE. “This is a way to postpone or get more time for when the activation model would possibly reduce [unemployment benefits].”
Varma, he added, has recorded an up-tick as high as 17 per cent in disability pension applications following the introduction of the activation model.
Kivekäs also said he has personally witnessed an increase in patients who neither have any serious health problems nor are regular customers of a health care centre. “A typical case where we believe the activation model has had an effect is that of a person who has been unemployed for a long time who is now applying for a disability pension,” he commented.
Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto (Greens) reminded that the surge in disability pension applications should not have come as a surprise.
“Experts warned about this, but the warnings fell on deaf ears,” she tweeted on Monday.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi