Social Security

Injured Soldiers Denied Benefit - Director General Agrees Rules are Too Strict

Updated 17:40

Six months ago, four Swedish soldiers were seriously injured when a road bomb exploded under their vehicle in Afghanistan. After their return to Sweden, a new battle begun: that with the Social Insurance Office, the newspaper Norrländska Socialdemokraten reports.

Two of them did not receive any sick pay for the first two weeks after their return to Sweden - because they did not immediately report to the unemployment office that they were out of a job. One of them has been told by the social insurance office that he is fit enough to go back to his work as a lorry driver, even though his doctor says he is not.

Now the director general of the Social Insurance Office steps into the debate, saying that he thinks the rules are unnecessarily strict.

The four injured soldiers met up again on Friday for the first time since the accident. Two of them are still in wheel chairs and they are all recovering from various fractures and injuries caused by the blast. The Afghan interpreter that was with them at the time died immediately.

After the article in Norrländska Socialdemokraten on Saturday morning intense media reporting has led to promised changes from both the Social Insurance Office and the Minister of Social Insurances.

The director general of the Social Insurance Office, Stig Orustfjord told the news agency TT that he thinks the rule that a person who has not got a job needs to register with the unemployment office before he or she can get sick pay is unnecessarily strict, but that a sentence from the Supreme Administrative Court has confirmed it is the right interpretation of the law.

According to Orustfjord, the Social Insurance Office has proposed a respite of one or two weeks before one has to register at the unemployment office. "If we are talking about young people who are in defending Swedens interests and are injured, it is quite unreasonable that they will not have the benefit," he tills TT.

On Monday the Social Insurance Office will be meeting with the Armed Forces to discuss the cases of the four soldiers.

Earlier on Saturday, the Minister for Social Insurances, Cristina Husmark Persson, said that in the future cases of acute illness may be an exception to the rule that one has to register the first day. The social insurance systems is currently being reviewed and this is one of the issues that will be dealt with there. The review is not expected to be finished for another couple of years, but parts of it could be done already next year Husmark Persson tells TT.

Husmark Persson also reminds that the parliament recently adopted new rules for the after care of soldiers who have been wounded while on missions abroad. The Armed Forces are now responsible for supporting the soldiers for "as long as it is needed". A unit for veteran soldiers will also be established.