Work incapacity-related expenditure was greater to expenditure linked to unemployment in 2015. This is a first in the history of Belgian Social Security, La Libre Belgique indicates on Wednesday. On the basis of data from the first three quarters and forecasts, generally known to be accurate, for the fourth quarter, the Institut National d’Assurance Maladie-Invalidité (Inami – which provides state sickness and invalidity insurance), the overall total of disability benefit (initial incapacity and invalidity benefit) increased in 2015 to 6,358 billion euros compared to 6,244 billion euros spent by the Office National de l’Emploi (ONEM – National Employment Office) upon job-seekers allowances or similar (those in full or part time unemployment, save for those either taking early retirement or having a career break).
However, this situation is no surprise for the management at the Belgian Sécu (Social Security). The number claiming invalidity benefit has in effect swelled from 257, 935 in 2010 to 347,808 in 2015. In relation to initial incapacity, the country went from having 30.9 million days off through illness claimed for in 2010 to 37.3 million in 2014.
During the same time period, the number of unemployed claimants has tended to decrease since 2000. As at December 31, 2014 there were 63,000 less unemployed than on December 31, 2000 (686,000 compared to 623,000).
When tightening the rules in pension or unemployment regimes, there is an increase in the number of individuals likely to receive incapacity benefit or an extension in the period over which they might benefit, La Libre analyses, “The various elements of social security operate as connected vessels,” comments François Perl, the Director-General of Benefits Services at Inami.