Disability, sickness, and unemployment benefits among long-term sickness absentees five years before, during, and after a multidisciplinary medical assessment

J Multidiscip Healthc. 2011 Mar 11;4:25-31. doi: 10.2147/JMDH.S17138.

Abstract

Aim: The aim was to describe how a multidisciplinary medical assessment changed the distribution of long-term sickness absentees between three different forms of social security support during a period of eleven years.

Methods: The study group (n = 1002) consisted of persons on long-term sickness absence who were referred to a multidisciplinary medical assessment by the Social Insurance Office in Stockholm, Sweden between 1998 and 2007. Register data from the years 1993-2008 were linked to the study group. A calculation was provided for the number of days per person and year on unemployment benefits, sickness benefits, and disability pension, five years before, during, and five years after the assessment. Also, differences in the average number of days per person and year were calculated with one-way analysis of variance.

Results: The number of days on sickness benefits increased up to the time of multidisciplinary medical assessment, from 69 to 218 days on average. After the assessment there was a decrease in the average number of days on sickness benefits, from 218 to 16 days. Before the assessment the number of days on disability pension was 21, but this increased after the assessment from 104 days to an average of 272 days five years after the assessment. There were age differences regarding number of compensated days, and these were particularly pronounced for disability days after the assessment. Further, there were significant differences between types of diagnosis in relation to average days on disability pension after the assessment.

Conclusion: The study shows that after a multidisciplinary medical assessment there is a rapid increase in disability pension and a dramatic decrease in sickness benefits. The results indicate that for a large number of persons, a Social Insurance Office referral to an assessment does not improve their chances of returning to work, but rather seems to justify disability pension.

Keywords: Sweden; diagnosis; disability pension; multidisciplinary medical assessment; sick leave; sickness absence.