WAO re-assessment offers minister hope
3 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — Half of the first 10,000 people whose WAO work disability pension has been re-assessed can return to work, Social Affairs Minister Aart Jan de Geus announced triumphantly on Thursday.
3 March 2005
AMSTERDAM — Half of the first 10,000 people whose WAO work disability pension has been re-assessed can return to work, Social Affairs Minister Aart Jan de Geus announced triumphantly on Thursday.
The WAO has been something of a white elephant in the Netherlands for years, with almost 1 million of the country's seven-million strong workforce claiming partial or full benefits for work-related illnesses.
Successive governments have tried and failed to reign in the system which is widely seen as being out-of-control.
Announcing the initial results of a wide-ranging re-assessment of the claimants, the Social Affairs Ministry said on Thursday that 300,000 cases in total would be re-examined. Inspectors hope to find out how many people are now fit to return to full-time or at least partial employment.
Under the government's plans, only claimants who are totally unfit for work will continue to receive the WAO. All others will have to re-enter the work market.
So far, 19,000 people have been re-assessed — 9,000 of whom are young people with disabilities from birth. People in this group are entitled to a special benefits payment. The other 10,000 are currently receiving benefits for work-related injuries and illnesses.
Expressing great enthusiasm for the re-evaluation process, De Geus said "this is a result that one can only dream of as a politician. Unemployment can no longer be hidden in the WAO".
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news