Since 1 January 2004, employers are obliged to pay their sick employees for a period of two years, as against one year prior to 1 January 2004. As a result of the amendment, the number of WAO benefits declined above average in 2005.
Since 1 October 2004, the rules establishing a person’s degree of disability have become stricter and also apply to benefits granted in the past. Under-50s again have to be subjected to a medical check-up. If the result leads to termination of the benefit, the UWV and the CWI will assist the person in finding a job.
On 1 January 2006, the WAO was replaced by the WIA. The WAO still applies to persons who became disabled prior to 1 January 2004. The WIA – more than the former WAO scheme – focuses on working as many hours as the physical or mental condition allows. Only fully disabled persons will receive a guaranteed income. A person is fully disabled if he/she cannot earn more than 20 percent of the income he/she used to earn. A person is long-term disabled if his/her chances of recovery are poor. If both criteria do not apply, the person is partially disabled. Unlike WAO recipients, partially disabled must now have worked at least 26 weeks in the 36 weeks prior to disablement or already receive an unemployment benefit.
Since 1 August 2004, the Waz has been abolished. From that date, self-employed had to be privately insured against the risk of long-term disability. To those who already receive a benefit, the Waz applies.