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WIA benefit: unfairness and accessibility problems

Aug 08, 2023
3 min reading time

Inefficient disability schemes in the Netherlands are coming under criticism, as is evident from a critical assessment of WIA benefits by the United Nations. Each year, more than 12,000 workers end up in disability situations without qualifying for WIA benefits, which can result in poignant situations. Consideration of supplementary disability insurance therefore does not seem to be an unnecessary luxury.

Recently, the ILO, acting on behalf of the United Nations in working conditions, sounded a cry of alarm. Since 2011, the Netherlands has been violating a crucial international convention on disability, as indicated by the ILO. The Work and Income Act (WIA) is described by the ILO as a "deep concern," a term also associated with welfare issues such as those of the Uighurs in China or child labor in the Congo. It is not a comparison to be proud of.


The essence of the WIA benefit

Although a detailed account of WIA benefits is not appropriate here, the main points are briefly highlighted. During the first two years of disability, the employer continues to pay part of the salary. Just before the end of these two years, an insurance physician assesses the degree of disability. Based on what you still can and cannot do, the doctor selects three possible occupations you could do. Each of these occupations has a corresponding salary. The salary you previously earned is compared to the salary of the middle profession to determine the percentage of disability.

For example, if it turns out that you would earn 40% less with the new occupation, you are considered 40% disabled. So in the context of the WIA, it's not so much about what you can no longer do, but about the income loss. If you are less than 35% incapacitated for work, you are not eligible for WIA benefits. An occupational disability percentage above 80% entitles you to IVA benefit.


Injustice from WIA

Zembla's investigation reveals that mainly people with lower incomes are disadvantaged when they become disabled. Take, for example, a doctor and a nurse who both work in a hospital. Both become equally seriously ill. The nurse earns €16 per hour, while the doctor earns €70. After two years of illness, the insurance doctor concludes that both the nurse and the doctor can do three other jobs where the average hourly rate comes to €13.

This results in an income drop of 19% for the nurse and as much as 81% for the physician. Under the WIA, the physician is then considered 81% disabled and the nurse 19%. However, despite equal health problems, the nurse does not receive WIA benefits.


Commission examines WIA

In response to Zembla, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment admitted to being familiar with the problems surrounding the WIA. A committee has been set up to thoroughly investigate the disability system. A quick solution to the unfairness of the WIA does not seem to be available for the time being.


Not receiving WIA benefits can cause significant financial hardship. Even if you do receive WIA benefits, your income can drop significantly. Insurance, such as disability insurance or living expenses insurance, can offset this drop in income. Want to know how you can cover this risk? We are ready to find out for you. Feel free to contact one of our advisors.

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