Reblogged from Beyond Disability
With a population of just 1.5 million, Estonia does not have a very large welfare budget in either absolute or relative terms. However, unlike many countries, much of the Estonia’s welfare budget is administered online, keeping costs down. Citizens can apply for all relevant benefits once, without having to fill out lots of very similar forms.
For disabled people and the long-term sick, working age adults are eligible for incapacity benefits, with varying payment according to the severity of the disability or illness from €17-54 a month. This is supposed to go towards medical costs, transport and other expenses not covered by health insurance or other benefits. Citizens also receive health insurance.
Disability benefits are calculated according to the individual’s average salary over a 10-year period. If claimants can work, the rate is based on 30% of the claimant’s average salary over the decade and can range from €282 to €951 per month. For those no longer able to work, a higher rate of 50% is used, up to a ceiling of €1,585 per month. Those who cannot work and require care receive the same scale of benefits as this second group, but also get €1,104 per month to pay for a carer. Disabled adults who have never worked can claim a monthly allowance of between €403 (for a single person) and €666 (for a couple), as long as they do not have financial resources of more than €800 per month (for single person) and €1,600 (for couples). If the disabled person has worked for less than one year and has minimal resources, they can also claim the RSA as well as housing benefits. Disability benefits are also available for parents looking after disabled children under 20 who are living at home. They cover education, and the employment of a carer, but are means-tested and the benefits depend on the severity of the child’s disability.
Those with a disability, who are unable to work more than three hours a day, are eligible for a disability pension as long as they have contributed to the social security scheme for a minimum of five years. Those unable to work more than six hours a day are entitled to a partial pension. The average disability pension is around €8,900. Disabled people are entitled to health treatment via the nationwide health insurance scheme at no extra cost, but must have been paying into the system prior to the disability. Seriously disabled people are entitled to further allowances and special employment protection.
Disabled children are automatically insured with their parents in the health insurance scheme without having to pay any additional costs. Children and students with disabilities are entitled to various rights, including wheelchair access and a sign language translator in certain circumstances. Companies receive benefits and tax breaks for employing people with disabilities. Grants are available of up to €2,557 per project to adapt the home of a disabled person to their individual needs. They are also entitled to housing benefit of up to €1,500, depending on the severity of the disability; help towards taxi fares to enable mobility and participation in normal life; and free public transport. There is also money to cover care at home, measured on three levels, according to an individual’s care needs.
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The overarching criteria for disability allowance is that individuals are residents of Ireland and have a disability that is expected to last for at least one year and substantially restricts a person from undertaking work that would otherwise be suitable for them. “Deciding officers”, appointed under Irish social welfare legislation, determine who is entitled based on the merits of each individual case. Applicants are required to have their doctor complete a medical report which is reviewed by one of the department’s medical assessors. Payments are means-tested above €50,000 of any capital. The maximum payment for those aged 26 or over is €188 per week for individuals. Those with children receive extra.
If a disabled person goes back to rehabilitative work they can earn up to €350 a week and still receive the allowance. However, that individual must first get permission from the department before taking up that job
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There are about 2.6 million disabled people living in Italy, 4.8% of the population, who describe themselves as unable to perform essential daily tasks independently. Benefits for disabled people are recalculated every year based on inflation and the cost of living. In 2015, disabled Italians between the ages of 18 and 65 are entitled to €279.75 a month. They also receive tax breaks to buy certain goods such as special vehicles and adjustments to the home. In Italy generally, disabled people are not necessarily encouraged to work and the funds they are given are not enough to support an autonomous life, according to the Academic Network of European Disability Experts. Researchers at Academic Network of European Disability (ANED) found that the proportion of disabled adults who live at risk of poverty is 16.5%, compared with 6.6% for non-disabled people. And only 29% of disabled adults have jobs, according to 2009 data, compared with 65% of able-bodied adults.
People with physical or learning disabilities, as well as those with mental health conditions, are eligible for government assistance. According to the Japanese cabinet office, 7.4 million people belong in these three categories. Adults with severe physical and mental disabilities with an income of less than ¥3.4 million yen (£20,000) are eligible for ¥26,800 yen (£153) a month, while families with children under 20 with physical and mental disabilities can receive ¥50,050 or ¥33,330 a month depending on the severity of the disability. If the children require constant homecare, families receive an additional ¥14,180 , provided their total income is below a certain level. Disabled citizens are also eligible for discounts on public transport and telecom fees.
After a year claimants are assessed for disability benefits. This can be rapid, but it can also take a year or two while they go through a process of rehabilitation to try to get them into work. In contrast to many countries where disability benefits are only available for those in the labour market, here it is a universal right. Benefits are calculated at two-thirds of a person’s gross salary three to five years before the disability occurred. Those who have had very low or no wages, receive 40-50% of the average wage. Over 10% of all working-age adults receive permanent or temporary disability allowances, according to the OECD – a figure that rises to 14% if you include people receiving support to get them back into work after illness or injury. There is also means-tested support for each child in families in which a parent is a recipient of disability benefits.
People on disability benefits in Norway get extra help to pay for a carer, make adjustments to their homes (wider doors for wheelchairs etc), pay for taxis and so on. In Sweden, if you are in a car accident or similar, and end up with a disability, you may have the right to financial assistance for home adjustments, for example, to make it possible for you to move around in the house with a wheelchair, move the kitchen or a bedroom from upper to lower floor and so on. Unusually, if you build a new house in Sweden (quite a popular option among Swedes) you will not get planning permission if the house is not adjusted for such unexpected events – you need to have the kitchen on the ground floor, plus a bathroom accessible for a wheelchair, and at least the possibility to easily convert one room on the first floor to a bedroom, no matter whether anyone in your family has a disability. This amendment to construction law was introduced to reduce future claims for extra help for home adjustments in case of disability. Until the late 1980s, Nordic countries paid very high levels of out-of-work benefits, says professor Axel West Pedersen of the Institute for Social Research in Oslo. But “retrenchment” had already begun in the 80s and accelerated following the global recession of 1991. In Norway, unemployment benefits are financed from general taxation, while in Denmark, Finland and Sweden, unemployment insurance is voluntary, although non-insured unemployed people are entitled to cash benefits significantly lower than unemployment benefits.
For those out of work with serious illness or disability, the state pays sickness benefits as long as the illness first presented during work or within 30 days of terminating work, and as long as the work was fully legal and thus the person was paying social insurance through their employer. Sickness benefit can cover up to four consecutive months or five months in total in any calendar year. Depending on how long the person has been employed for, the payments will be between 60% and 100% of their normal salary. There is a catch, however: the total amount cannot exceed 415,000 roubles per year (£4,100), so those on high salaries will receive just a small portion of their salary. Low income families may be entitled to extra benefits, especially if they have three or more children or if the family includes a veteran of the second world war. Low-income families can also get discounts on certain foods and medicines, and some may qualify for a reduced utilities bill. Disability is grouped into three categories in Russia. Group one consists of people who have lost all of their working capacity and require constant care; group two are also people who have lost all their working capacity but do not require constant care, and group three includes people who have more than a 50% reduction in working capacity. Payments range from 2,974 roubles a month in the first group to3,170 roubles in the third group. For those with permanent disabilities, the sums are higher, up to 10,000 roubles per month, and higher if the person has dependents.
9. South Africa
Applicants for disability grant are assessed and diagnosed by a doctor who recommends whether their impairment is severe enough to qualify. The South African Social Security Agency makes the final decision. A disabled person is typically eligible for a grant of R1,350 (£76) per month – equivalent to 9% of South Africa’s average wage of R14,731 per month. There is a means test: claimants must not earn more than R5,150 rand per month if they are single or R10,300 per month if married. They must not have assets worth more than R891,000 if single or R1,782,000 if married.They are paid on a sliding scale – the more income an applicant has, the less they will receive for the grant. More than one million people were recipients of a disability grant in 2013/14. But Olwethu Sipuka, spokesperson for Disabled People South Africa, believes the money could be better spent on education to help disabled people gain skills and find jobs. He said: “The government thinks this is the best it can do. It’s not. We’re creating a developmental welfare state and in the long term it’s going to be unsustainable.”
10. United States
The US system of benefits for disabled people could be used as a cautionary tale for anyone who wants to know what happens when state financial support for citizens with physical or mental impairments is paired down to the minimum. The vast majority of people receive nothing in the way of disability benefits. For many who don’t qualify food stamps (a federally funded programme for the most impoverished people) is an essential, if meagre lifeline.
There are two main benefits that disabled people can apply for, both of which are administered nationally by the social security administration. The is Social Security Disability Insurance, (SSDI) which is funded through worker and employer payroll contributions. Approximately 9 million working-age adults are currently in receipt of SSDI. SSDI payments average $1,140 per month (£777) and are much less than the benefits paid by most other advanced nations
Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the second type of disability benefit and which is designed to meet the basic needs of the poorest disabled people, is paid to just under 5 million working age people with around 1.3 million disabled children also receiving payments. On average, working age adults on SSI receive $525 per month and for most it is their only source of income.
Additional reporting from the The Guardian ……………’