Young handicapped receive too much in benefit

At least 140,000 young handicapped people are receiving more in benefits than they are entitled to, costing the state millions of euros a year, Trouw reports on Tuesday.

The Wajong benefit is paid to young mentally handicapped people judged unfit to work. Originally the full amount was paid to all of them, but in 2010 the then-government introduced stricter assessments and only the most severely handicapped were eligible for the benefit. The rest were expected to find a job.

However, since it was virtually impossible for these youngsters to find work, they were categorised as ‘totally unfit for work’ by the doctors and authorities testing them, says Trouw.

Frans Nijhuis, professor of inclusive labour organisations at Maastricht university, told Trouw this was done out of pity.

The present government is planning a shake-up of the benefits system which will include the Wajong benefit.

There are currently 230,000 youngsters receiving the benefit, of whom 40,000 are completely and irreversibly handicapped. They will keep the Wajong benefit.

The rest will be reassessed, a move the minister says will save €1.2bn over the long term. However, experts think this will lead to 70% being assessed as fit for work when there are no jobs available to them.

Parliament is debating the new benefits system and special-needs jobs sector later on Tuesday.

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