Disability pension and rehabilitation subsidy

Payment of a rehabilitation subsidy or disability pension available from Kela can normally begin about a year after you became ill.

  • Sickness allowance is usually payable for a maximum of 300 working days (about a year). After that, sickness allowance is normally not paid for the same illness until you have been fit for work for a year. If you are absent from work on account of illness and you have received sickness allowance for 150 working days, Kela will send you information about the availability of rehabilitation and the process of applying for a pension.
  • In case of prolonged illness you may benefit from rehabilitation (www.kela.fi/tyoikaisille). Kela or the authorised pension provider can determine if rehabilitation could help you. You can also seek rehabilitation yourself or contact the occupational health care provider.
  • Rehabilitation subsidy is a fixed-term disability pension. During the period of rehabilitation subsidy or already earlier Kela and the authorised pension provider clarify your possibilities of returning to work with the help of rehabilitation or of changing profession with the help of vocational and medical rehabilitation. When needed, they also direct you to other rehabilitation. Payment of the rehabilitation subsidy available from Kela normally begins after about a year if the incapacity for work is prolonged.
  • However, if your work ability is not restored or improved during treatment or rehabilitation, you may be entitled to a disability pension. If you are able to cope with part-time work or a lighter work load, you can apply for a partial disability pension from the authorised pension provider. The partial disability pension is not included in the pension benefits available from Kela.
  • If you reach the maximum time limit for receiving sickness allowance before getting a decision on your pension application, register with the TE Services as a jobseeker and apply for an unemployment benefit. You cannot register as a jobseeker retrospectively. You should therefore remember to register as a jobseeker in time, at the latest on the day after the payment of the sickness allowance ended. Follow the same procedure also when you have an ongoing employment relationship, if your employer cannot offer you suitable work. 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.

When the sickness allowance ends and the application for disability pension is still being processed or the application has been turned down, do as follows:

  • Register immediately as an unemployed jobseeker with the TE Services. Please note that the jobseeker status cannot be backdated. Renew your status as a jobseeker.
  • State that you are looking for a full-time job. Only jobseekers who are looking for a full-time job are eligible for unemployment benefits. If you are a jobseeker on partial disability pension, you can apply for part-time work.
  • Register as a jobseeker also when you have an ongoing employment relationship. You must also send a certificate from the employer to Kela or to the unemployment fund, indicating that the employer cannot offer you any work that would suit your work capacity.

On the basis of incapacity for work you can apply for a disability pension from Kela and from the authorised pension provider at the same time if your earnings-related pension will be small. In such a case, Kela and the authorised pension provider consult each other before issuing a pension decision.

Significance of assessment of work ability

Illness and incapacity for work are not exactly the same thing. Even if you have a diagnosed illness, you are not necessarily incapable of work. Sickness allowance, rehabilitation subsidy and disability pension are only awarded on the basis of incapacity for work.

Your remaining capacity for work will be assessed by a medical expert and a claims processor at Kela on the basis of the medical certificate and the information provided in your application. The documents should thus detail how your illness reduces your work ability in your (current) job. They will consider your age, profession, education and place of residence and your potential for finding employment that fits your vocational qualifications as well as the information that your rehabilitation possibilities have been determined.

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

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

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

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