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Rehabilitation subsidy and disability pension

If your capacity for work is decreased on a long-term basis for at least a year because of an illness or injury, you can apply for a rehabilitation subsidy or a disability pension. These benefits can usually only be granted after the applicant has received sickness allowance for about one year. 

Rehabilitation subsidy is a disability pension that is paid only for a specified time period

A disability pension can be payable for a specified time period or indefinitely. A fixed-term disability pension is called a rehabilitation subsidy. The objective is for you to return to work or study after the rehabilitation subsidy ends. However, if your work capacity is not restored or improved during treatment or rehabilitation, you may be entitled to a disability pension that is payable indefinitely.  

Rehabilitation subsidies and disability pensions are paid by authorised pension providers and by Kela

  • Your authorised pension provider, Kela, or both of them can pay you a rehabilitation subsidy or a disability pension. 
  • When a rehabilitation allowance or a disability pension is paid by an authorised pension provider, it is paid as an earnings-related pension. Earnings-related pension is paid on account of work and self-employment.
  • Authorised pension providers may grant a disability pension to a person who is over 17 years old but under the age of old-age pension.
  • You can find more information about your earnings-related pension on your pension provider’s website. If you do not know your own authorised pension provider, you can check it on the työeläke.fi website.
  • If your earnings-related pension is small or you have not accrued any, you can receive a disability pension as a national pension from Kela. 
  • You may be entitled to a rehabilitation subsidy or a disability pension from Kela if you are between 16 and 64 years of age. Read more about eligibility for a rehabilitation subsidy or a disability pension under the National Pensions Act.
  • Apply for an earnings-related pension and a national pension using the same application. How to apply for rehabilitation subsidy or disability pension.
  • When a pensioner turns 65 years old, their disability pension is changed to an old-age pension
  • In addition, Kela can pay a guarantee pension if your other pensions are really small. The purpose of the guarantee pension is to ensure the minimum pension for persons living in Finland.

What to do if my capacity for work declines?

If your incapacity for work lasts for less than a year, you can receive sickness allowance from Kela. The sickness allowance is usually payable for a maximum of 300 working days (about a year).

Once you have been paid sickness allowance for 150 days, you will get a letter from Kela about supporting your capacity for work and securing a living.

If you wish to find out if rehabilitation could be an option for you, first see a doctor. If the doctor thinks that you could benefit from rehabilitation, the doctor will draw up a medical statement where they recommend it for you. Rehabilitation services are provided by authorised pension providers, Kela and insurance companies. Contact your doctor or Kela to find out the types of rehabilitation you may be eligible for.

If a doctor recommends that you participate in Kela rehabilitation, get to know the rehabilitation options offered. Examples include vocational rehabilitation assessment, education and training, rehabilitation courses, and psychotherapy. 

If your incapacity for work is prolonged, you can apply for a rehabilitation subsidy or a disability pension. Payment of the rehabilitation subsidy or disability pension available from Kela or an authorised pension provider normally begins after about a year since the incapacity for work began. 

The amount of your earnings-related pension affects where you can apply for a rehabilitation subsidy or a disability pension. Earnings-related pension is accumulated on the basis of work and self-employment, and it is paid by authorised pension providers. If you have not accumulated enough earnings-related pension, apply for a rehabilitation subsidy or a disability pension from Kela.

If you decide to apply for a rehabilitation subsidy or a disability pension, you should note that it takes an average of 2 to 3 months for the application to be processed. These benefits can be paid retroactively for a maximum of 6 months from the date of the application. How to apply for rehabilitation subsidy or disability pension.

If your work capacity is not restored or improved during treatment or rehabilitation, you may be entitled to a disability pension. 

If your work capacity allows you to cope with part-time work or a lighter work load, you can apply for a partial disability pension from your authorised pension provider. Partial disability pension is not available from Kela. 
 
Please note that you can use the application available in the OmaKela e-service to apply for a rehabilitation subsidy or a disability pension provided by an authorised pension provider, or a pension from another EU or EEA country, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, or any country that has a social security agreement with Finland.

If you apply for a rehabilitation subsidy or a disability pension, and your entitlement to a sickness allowance ends before you receive a decision or your pension application is rejected, you have the option to apply for an unemployment benefit in order to secure a livelihood. 

If you cannot return to work, register with the TE Services as an unemployed jobseeker, and do so with effect from the first working day after your entitlement to a sickness allowance has ended. You cannot register as a jobseeker with retroactive effect. You can register as a jobseeker also if you are in employment and your employer is unable to offer you work which is consistent with your work capacity.

Apply for full-time work. If you are on partial disability pension, you can apply for part-time work.

Apply for unemployment benefit either from Kela or from your unemployment fund. If you are currently employed, enclose a statement from your employer indicating that your employer is unable to offer you work which is consistent with your work capacity.

The unemployment benefit also provides an income for you when the payment of the rehabilitation subsidy has ended but your application for continued payment of the subsidy is still being processed. Also in such cases you must register as a jobseeker in time.

How does Kela evaluate your capacity for work?

Illness and incapacity for work are not exactly the same thing. Even if you have a diagnosed illness, you are not necessarily incapacitated for work within the meaning of the National Pensions Act. Therefore, you might not necessarily be eligible for a rehabilitation subsidy or a disability pension even if you have a medical statement in which you are considered incapacitated for work. These benefits can only be granted on the grounds of such work incapacity that corresponds to the definition of work incapacity found in the National Pensions Act.

Your remaining capacity for work will be assessed by a benefit administrator and a medical adviser at Kela on the basis of the medical statement and the information provided in your application. Medical advisers are insurance medicine specialists. Based on the statement from your doctor, they will evaluate your fitness for work and functional status, as well as whether you are incapacitated for work within the meaning of the law.

Therefore, the statement and your application must illustrate how your illness reduces your capacity for work and what possibilities for rehabilitation you have. Your remaining work capacity will also be compared to other suitable work. Your age, vocation and education will also be taken into consideration, as well as the assessment of your rehabilitation possibilities. If you have reached the age of 60 and have had a long career, your capacity for work is assessed in relation to your own work. 

If your capacity for work is restored or when you reach the age of 65

Your work capacity and your entitlement to the rehabilitation subsidy or disability pension will be assessed again if your capacity for work is restored, you get well again or you study for a new profession.

If Kela is paying you a disability pension, it will be automatically converted into an old-age pension from the beginning of the month following your 65th birthday. Your pension will be changed into an old-age pension in the beginning of the next month after your birthday.

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Last modified 13/12/2023

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