The number of people classed as partially or fully unfit for work has increased by 1.5% in the last year, according to the employee insurance agency UWV.
The rise was mainly driven by the rise in the retirement age of 67, meaning people who depend on some form of incapacity benefit have to claim it for longer.
Altogether 853,000 people qualified for some kind of benefit based on their limited capacity to work, an increase of 15,000 since 2023 and continuing a rising trend since 2015.
More than 80% claim either the WIA benefit for people who are unable to work full-time because of long-term illness or disability, or the Wajong benefit for young people with a disability. The latter is intended to support claimants moving towards paid employment where possible.
Another 158,000 are eligible for two former benefit streams, the WAO and WAZ, which were closed to new claimants around 20 years ago.
The number claiming WIA has increased after the rules were temporarily changed to allow people over 60 to claim without a medical certificate, after the UWV aid it was struggling with a backlog in the assessment system.
Another 3,665 people became eligible in the first nine months after being diagnosed with long Covid, nearly three-quarters of whom were declared unfit for work.
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