Swiss disability insurance is a compulsory insurance system that provides relief to those with disabilities or people who are in the process of rehabilitation. The scheme is designed to care for those with disabilities so that they can better integrate into society and partially support themselves. Support can range from early intervention to allowances and other payments to replace a salary. This is part of the AHV / OASI system of insurance and is paid for by employees and employers.
Claiming Swiss disability insurance
Disability insurance is one of the support networks given to those who are unable to support themselves. Swiss disability insurance includes many different forms of support that may be given, depending on each individual case. The service allows people with disabilities to begin to support themselves or provides long-term support for you and your family if more help is needed.
Who pays for Swiss disability insurance?
Swiss disability insurance is paid for by all residents of Switzerland. Employees contribute 0,7 percent of their salary towards Swiss disability insurance. People who are self-employed must contribute 1,4 percent of their total income. Those who are looking for a job pay around 66 to 3.300 Swiss francs a year to the scheme, depending on the amount of social security they receive through unemployment benefits or other forms of welfare such as accident and occupational disease insurance.
Who can receive Swiss disability insurance?
Swiss disability insurance is open to all residents who live or work in Switzerland. Whether you qualify for certain benefits is dependent on the nature of your disability. This is determined by the Swiss definition of “invalidity”.
Invalidity in Switzerland
Although this may be used as a harmful slur in other parts of the world, “invalidity” is a term used in Swiss law to define the extent to which someone needs Swiss disability insurance.
The AHV / OASI defines invalidity as “The inability to earn an income, or for the insured who are not gainfully employed, the inability to continue to carry out day-to-day tasks (e.g. housework) owing to a physical, psychological or mental disability. The disability must be long-term (i.e. of a duration of at least one year). It is irrelevant whether the disability is congenital or the result of an illness or accident.”
How is invalidity determined?
If you have a job in Switzerland and have been made disabled, your degree of invalidity is based on how much you could have earned, were you not disabled. This is then compared with your earnings now that you are disabled. A calculation is also made, based on your potential earnings should you be fully rehabilitated.
If you do not work or are seeking employment, your degree of invalidity is calculated by your ability to do tasks around the house.
Types of Swiss disability insurance
If you qualify for Swiss disability insurance, the AHV / OASI provides many different avenues of support to suit your needs. These can range from basic workplace rehabilitation to permanent pensions and benefits. There are several forms of benefit given by Swiss disability insurance which are tailored to each person’s individual situation and are controlled by a Disability Insurance Office.
Early detection is designed to detect people who are at risk of invalidity and provide them with adequate support. In practice, this means that your employer or a member of your household has contacted the disability insurance office on your behalf. This can be done if you have been unable to return to work for at least 30 days or have had repeated small absences from work over the last year. Once you have been identified, you are then placed on one of the other benefit schemes.
Early intervention measures
Early intervention is the typical first step for someone claiming Swiss disability insurance. This scheme is designed to keep you in your current job while your ability to work is adversely affected by disability. Action is usually taken in the form of adjustments to your workplace, training courses for your colleagues, rehabilitation programmes, changes to your work contract and job placement services.
Rehabilitation measures are designed to improve the capacity to work of people who are disabled or likely to become disabled, to help them become self-sufficient. This line of support is given if the Disability Insurance Office deems it necessary. This is usually determined by looking at your age and the overall health and quality of life you experience. Some of the kinds of support on offer are:
- Medical interventions for those under the age of 20 and reduced costs for Swiss healthcare
- Measures to improve working life, similar to early intervention
- Return-to-work programmes
- Providing support materials
- Covering costs for transportation
- Cash benefits and care and assistance allowances
Your Disability Insurance Office will determine which of these measures is right for your specific case.
Occupational measures are aimed at providing careers counselling and job placement services to people with disabilities or with severe health conditions. This can extend to vocational training or retraining programmes, similar to attending higher education. The scheme also provides incentives for companies to employ disabled people, as well as reduced insurance premiums for disabled people willing to work. It also includes compensation for employers who keep people who are suffering from an illness at work.
Reintegration measures are the steps that the Disability Insurance Office takes to make sure there isn’t any regression in the process of rehabilitation. These measures can include any of the other services detailed above. Reintegration is usually the final step if you have been successfully rehabilitated and are able to work and sustain yourself once again. At the conclusion of this step, you are reassessed by the insurance office, who will determine whether you need to continue with any benefits or if any degree of disability has changed. This will determine if you need to seek further help or apply for a disability pension.
Swiss disability pension
A Swiss disability pension is available to all Swiss residents who are permanently incapacitated. This means that the rehabilitation steps taken have not led to you being able to be self-sufficient or to work.
Claiming a Swiss disability pension
A Swiss disability pension can be claimed after an assessment by the Disability Insurance Office. This is part of the final assessment they make to make sure that all relevant steps have been taken to try to rehabilitate you. If this has been unsuccessful then you are entitled to a Swiss disability pension. If it is found that your attendance at work or ability to work has been reduced by at least 40 percent over the last year and is showing no sign of improvement, then you are entitled to a Swiss disability pension.
You are no longer eligible for a Swiss disability pension when you no longer meet the criteria as defined by your Disability Insurance Office, or reach retirement age and apply for your pension.
How much will I get from a Swiss disability pension?
The calculation of how much you will receive in your Swiss disability pension is the same as the one used to calculate a mandatory first pillar pension. The factors are:
- How long you have paid into the disability insurance system
- Income from your previous job
- Number of dependents
In addition to this, the degree of invalidity is used to calculate what proportion of your pension you will receive. This is calculated as follows:
- 40 percent is a quarter pension
- 50 percent is a half pension
- 60 percent is a three-quarter pension
- 70 percent is a full pension
A full Swiss disability pension can range from 1.195 to 2.390 Swiss francs per month. Total earnings from a household through all pension schemes must not exceed 150 percent of the maximum pension of 3.585 Swiss francs a month.
Swiss helplessness allowance
In some cases, a person who is claiming a Swiss disability pension may require further treatment or assistance. This is provided by the Swiss helplessness allowance. You can claim this allowance if it is determined that your condition requires permanent assistance from a third party to accomplish basic tasks. This is decided by the severity of your helplessness as determined by your insurance provider. If you are accepted, your monthly cash payments are increased from double to six times more than regular payment. This is so that you can pay for all the additional assistance you need.
In the same vein as Swiss helplessness allowance, the attendance allowance is a support benefit that is paid to claimants so that they can employ someone to support them. This is designed to give you greater freedom and allows you to keep living at home.
How to apply for Swiss disability benefits
In order to receive these benefits, you must apply with your Disability Insurance Office, usually situated in the capital of the county (canton) where you live. You can also apply at your local OASI pension office.