Introduction: Danish social legislation operates with three levels of disablement pension: the highest level is given when the ability to work is lost; the middle level is given when the ability is estimated to be diminished to one third of the capacity of a healthy person; and the lowest pension is given when this ability is estimated to be half that of a healthy person. Many disabled persons would therefore be expected to work to supplement their pensions.
Material and methods: In 1997, 17,196 persons, who obtained a disablement pension in 1995, were asked via Statistics Denmark about their occupational income. The population was grouped according to income, sex, age, marital status, education, and the level of the pension.
Results: Of these, 81.1% earned nothing at all (< 1 krone), and only 5% earned > 50,000 kroner. The odds ratios for having an income to supplement the pension were: highest and middle pension/lowest pension 1.09, men/women 1.66, age below 40/above 40 years 1.50, living together/alone 1.31, and education/no education 1.46.
Discussion: Disabled, early retired persons are not making use of their theoretical ability to supplement their disablement pension with paid work, and the estimates of ability to work are not closely associated with the level of the disablement pension. Those who have jobs to supplement their pensions are significantly more likely to be men, younger rather than older, and educated rather than uneducated.