Changes in legislation and regulations concerning disability

The Gatekeeper Act  (Wet Verbetering Poortwachter) was introduced in 2002 with the aim of restricting entitlement to disability benefits. Additional measures included extension of the requirement for employers to continue paying the wages of incapacitated employees for the first two years of absence, instead of only the first year (2004), the revision of the disability benefit scheme for the self-employed (WAZ) in 2004 and of the former disability benefit scheme under the old scheme (WAO) in 2006. Furthermore in 2010 the Wajong disability benefits for young people were replaced by new legislation and stricter criteria were applied for this benefit.

In the Netherlands, disability benefits are granted under a number of regulations. The data used for this article refer to benefits paid under the former WAO scheme, the former Wajong scheme, the former disability benefits scheme for the self-employed (WAZ), and the current incapacity benefit (WIA).
The WAO, Wajong and WAZ schemes were applicable from 1 January 1998, the WIA since 1 January 2006. The WIA has replaced the WAO and comprises two elements:

• Income security for people with complete and long-term disability (IVA) 
• Benefits aimed at reintegration for the partially disabled (WGA).

From 1 January 2004 employees who became unable to work were no longer entitled to a WAO benefit. After the continued payment of their wages by their employer (two years), they could apply for a WIA benefit from 29 December 2005. People receiving a WAO benefit on 1 January 2004 continued to receive the same benefit.

From 1 August 2004 self-employed people who became unable to work could no longer claim WAZ disability benefit. People already receiving a WAZ benefit on that date continued to receive that benefit.

On 1 January 2010 criteria became stricter for young people applying for benefits under the Wajong scheme.

At the end of June 2013, the following disability benefits were paid:

WAO:  389.8 thousand
WGA (WIA): 127.1 thousand
IVA (WIA):   47.1 thousand
Wajong:  232.6 thousand
WAZ:    21.1 thousand

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