Disability pension among persons with chronic disease: Differential impact of a Danish policy reform

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BACKGROUND: In 2013, Denmark implemented a reform that tightened the criteria for disability pension, expanded a subsidized job scheme ('flexi-job') and introduced a new vocational rehabilitation scheme. The overall aim of the reform was to keep more persons attached to the labour market. This study investigates the impact of the reform among persons with chronic disease and whether this impact differed across groups defined by labour market affiliation and chronic disease type.

METHODS: The study was conducted as a register-based, nationwide cohort study. The study population included 480 809 persons between 40 and 64 years of age, who suffered from at least one of six chronic diseases. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of being awarded disability pension or flexi-job in the 5 years after vs. the 5 years prior to the reform were estimated.

RESULTS: Overall, the probability of being awarded disability pension was halved after the reform (HR = 0.49, CI: 0.47-0.50). The impact was largest for persons receiving sickness absence benefits (HR = 0.31, CI: 0.24-0.39) and for persons with functional disorders (HR = 0.38, CI: 0.32-0.44). Also, the impact was larger for persons working in manual jobs than for persons working in non-manual jobs. The probability of being awarded a flexi-job was decreased by one-fourth (HR = 0.76, CI: 0.74-0.79) with the largest impact for high-skilled persons working in non-manual jobs.

CONCLUSION: Access to disability pension and flexi-job decreased after the reform. This impact varied according to labour market affiliation and chronic disease type.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Volume31
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)186–192
Number of pages7
ISSN1101-1262
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 255100100