1 in 3 Disability Recipients Gainfully Employed
A third of the working-age Estonians receiving disability benefits are gainfully employed.
"Employment, permanent loss of capacity for work and the degree of severity of disability are all indicators that can change over time, so in order to get a better overview of the situation, the sensible thing to do would be to look at the average annual employment rate indicator that is calculated based on the workforce survey conducted by Statistics Estonia," replied Mari Kreitzberg, analyst in the Social Policy Information and Analysis Department of the Ministry of Social Affairs, when asked by uudised.err.ee how many work disability recipients are currently employed.
To qualify for disability pension, a person must have permanently lost 40-100 percent of his or her work capacity. According to Statistics Estonia's workforce survey, in 2009, there were 82,000 Estonians between the ages of 15 and 64 who had permanently lost at least 40 percent of their capacity for work, and 27,000 of them were employed. Those are the latest available figures.
"Disability pension is a form of replacement income that is meant to compensate for a person's partial or total incapacity for work. People who have reached the retirement age receive it in exceptional cases - when the loss of work capacity was caused by an occupational disease or an accident at work," explained Kreitzberg.
The Ministry of Social Affairs is currently analyzing a proposal according to which people's capacity instead of incapacity for work would be assessed in the future. The Ministry is also investigating the reasons why the number of people receiving disability benefits has almost doubled during the last decade.
According to the Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur, the rising unemployment rate that drove people to look for new sources of income might also have boosted the numbers of the receivers of disability benefits.
"And as you know, the system we have today is such that even if a person has been issued a certificate of incapacity for work, it will not stop them from getting a job," said Pevkur.