Disability benefits nearly back at 1998 level

20/09/2005 16:00

In May 2005, 938 thousand persons in the Netherlands were receiving a disability benefit. This is 55 thousand fewer than in January 2003, when 993 thousand people were claiming a benefit under one of the disability schemes. The decrease was completely accounted for the decrease in the number of disability benefits under the occupational disability insurance act (WAO). The number of WAO benefits is now nearly back at the level of 1998.

Four out of five disability benefits come under WAO

At the end of May 2005, 739 thousand incapacitated employees were claiming a disability benefit under the occupational disability insurance act, or WAO; 144 thousand young people received a benefit under the special scheme for young people (Wajong) and 54 thousand incapacitated self-employed people received a benefit under the WAZ scheme. Since January 2003 the number of WAO benefits has fallen by 62 thousand, while the other disability benefits rose slightly by 7 thousand. 

Fewer new WAO benefits

The number of WAO benefits started to decrease in January 2003, following five years of continuous growth. The decrease was caused mainly by the smaller number of new WAO benefits. In 2002 the inflow was still an average 7.5 thousand a month. In the first five months of 2005 this was an average 2 thousand a month.

The smaller influx was partly caused by the introduction of the “gatekeeper improvement act”  Wet Verbetering Poortwachter, which was intended to prevent people entering the WAO. In addition employees now have to be incapacitated for two years before they receive a WAO  benefit. Before 1 January 2004 this was one year.

WAO benefits

WAO benefits

Fairly constant outflow

The outflow form the WAO was fairly constant in the period up to 2004, at an average 7 thousand per month. In the first five months of 2005 the outflow from WAO was only slightly lower at an average 6 thousand a month.

Limburg has relatively most WAO claimants

In relation to the population aged 15-64 years, Limburg had the most WAO claimants. In this province 8.2 WAO benefits were claimed per hundred inhabitants aged 15-64 years. In North Holland and Drenthe, too, the number of WAO benefits was above the national average with 7.5 and 7.3 per hundred. The provinces with on average the fewest WAO benefits were South Holland and Zeeland, where fewer than 6 out of every hundred people had a WAO benefit.

WAO benefits per 100 persons aged 15-64 years, May 2005

WAO benefits per 100 persons aged 15-64 years, May 2005

Largest decrease in Friesland and Utrecht

The number of WAO benefits in the Netherlands fell by 7.8 percent between January 2003 and May 2005. The fall in North Holland was exactly the national average. The largest  fall (9.5 percent) was in Friesland, while in Utrecht it was nearly as large, at 9 percent.

Decrease in WAO benefits per province, January 2003- May 2005

Decrease in WAO benefits per province, January 2003- May 2005

The smallest decreases – less than 5 percent - were in Zeeland and Flevoland. Of the provinces with most WAO benefits, the decrease was lower than average in South Holland (7.2 percent) and North Brabant (6.9 percent).

Harrie Hartman