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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 March 11 - 17  > Disabled’s application for pension benefits unfairly dismissed due to doctor shortages
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2015 March 11 - 17 [WELFARE]

Disabled’s application for pension benefits unfairly dismissed due to doctor shortages

March 16, 2015
Decisions on whether to approve applications from the disabled for Disability Basic Pension benefits vary widely between prefectures, according to data that the welfare ministry recently released.

The basic pension for the disabled is available for those who are covered by the national pension insurance if they become disabled due to illness or injuries. In order to receive pension benefits, they are required to obtain a doctor’s recognition that they have government-set levels of disability.

The welfare ministry data regarding the percentage of dismissals of applications from people with disabilities in 47 prefectures indicated that between 2010 and 2012, the top prefecture (Oita’s 24.4%) dismissed approximately six times as many applications as the lowest prefecture (Tochigi’s 4.4%).

Explaining the reason why an applicant’s success or failure differs so greatly among the 47 prefectures, labor and social security attorney Hasegawa Yoko said, “This is because the number of doctors who can determine an applicant’s extent of disability is small.”

According to the welfare ministry, for example, in Kanagawa Prefecture, only four doctors examined 6,216 applications from disabled applicants. In Hyogo Prefecture, 3,402 applications were screened by four doctors. Even in Tokyo, 11 doctors handled 7,116 applications.

Hasegawa pointed out, “Too many applications per doctor will lead to hurried decisions. The current system in which a doctor examines an applicant’s situation only on peper should be changed.”

Disabled persons who suffer from chronic diseases, such as heart diseases and liver diseases, or incurable diseases have to apply to doctors for a certificate of their eligibility for the Disability Basic Pension at least once every five years. There are some cases in which those persons lose their eligibility because doctors made a decision to no longer issue the certificate after just looking over their applications.

Shimodomae Toru, who works for children suffering from heart diseases, said, “It is necessary to establish a system to determine disabled person’s eligibility for basic pension benefits in accordance with diverse information, including financial difficulties due to their disability.”
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