Social Insurance Agency under fire

The government has responded to criticism of reforms it made to the sickness benefit back in 2008. Social insurance minister Ulf Kristersson of the conservative Moderates admitts that there's room for improvement to make the Swedish Social Insurance Agency's judgments more consistent when it comes to awarding sickness benefit or not. He also says that the Agency and the Swedish Public Employment Agency should work closer together.

But Tomas Eneroth of the opposition Social Democrats tells news agency TT that the reforms have given more weight to the authority's point of view, leaving individuals forgotten. He calls for new reforms to give people support and rehabilitation.

On Tuesday, the Swedish Social Insurance Inspectorate reported big defects in the sickness benefit system that can have dangerous consequences for the ill.

The Swedish Social Insurance Inspectorate was given the job of overseeing how the agency was handling the new rules and in a report Tuesday said that it was difficult to understand some of the reasons given for taking a person off sickness benefit. In some cases decisions were often late and that there was little help in taking a person off sickness benefit and leading them to the correct agencies to find work.

The government's new rules on judging whether a person is fit or not to return to work inside a certain time frame have caused heated debate in Sweden since they were introduced in the summer of 2008.

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