DISABILITY PENSION

The following requirements must be met in order to qualify for a disability pension:

  • Partial or complete loss of working capacity
  • Years of service

Partial or complete loss of work capacity can result from non-work related injury or disease, injury or accident at work, or occupational disease.

Partial loss of working capacity exists when an insured person has not experienced a complete loss of working capacity, but due to his or her  age, health condition, education and abilities is still capable to work on “adapted tasks” in relation to the tasks that he or she performed before such reduction of working capacity, and for which a change in the remaining work ability is determined, since they can work at least 70% of full time on adapted tasks with the same or similar professional skills and if such adapted tasks correspond to the tasks he or she previously performed.

Complete loss of working capacity is defined as permanent loss of working capacity, with no remaining working ability.

Disabled worker is an insured person who has acquired the right to a disability pension or the right to occupational rehabilitation based on reduced working capacity with the remaining working ability, or a partial or complete loss of working capacity.

 

Requirement regarding years of service

If the reduction of working capacity with the remaining working ability is the result of an accident at work or occupational disease, the insured person has the right to disability pension regardless of the length of qualifying periods (years of service) completed.

If partial or complete loss of working capacity occurred due to a non-work related injury or disease, and before the age of 65, an insured person acquires the right to disability pension provided that his or her qualifying periods (years of service) cover at least one third of his or her working life.

The working life encompasses the number of full years from the date the insured person reached the age of 20 to the date the partial or complete loss of working capacity occurred. An insured person’s working life shall be calculated from the age of 23, if he or she completed, after the age of 20, an undergraduate university study or a specialist study (university-level qualifications obtained on the basis of previous regulations), and, respectively, an insured person’s working life from the age of 26, if he or she completed an undergraduate university study and a graduate university study, or an integrated undergraduate and graduate university study, or a specialist professional graduate study (university-level qualifications obtained on the basis of previous regulations).

The working life period is reduced for the actual period which the insured person:

  • Spent in military service,
  • Spent registered as unemployed with the competent employment service.

 

Exceptionally, the right to disability pension is acquired by an insured person:

  • Who became disabled before the age of 35, holding a specialist study degree (vocational specialist), if by the date he or she became disabled, he or she accrued at least two years of insurance periods, and an insured person holding university-level qualifications, if by the date he or she became disabled, he or she accrued at least one year of insurance periods, and when the disability occurred during insurance coverage or within one year after insurance termination,
  • Who became disabled before the age of 30, if he or she accrued at least one year of insurance periods, and when the disability occurred during insurance coverage or within one year after insurance termination.

Temporary disability pension

A disabled worker who, upon completion of his or her training through occupational rehabilitation, remains unemployed for an extended period of time may acquire a temporary disability pension.

Disabled worker is an insured person who has acquired the right to a disability pension or the right to occupational rehabilitation based on reduced working capacity with the remaining working ability, or a partial or complete loss of working capacity.

The right to this type of pension is acquired:

  • If the unemployment lasted at least five years after completion of occupational rehabilitation and until the age of 58, and
  • Provided that an employment offer through the competent employment service is accepted without delay, or that an offered job is not rejected.

A disabled worker who completed occupational rehabilitation, initially continued working, but became unemployed subsequently, also has the aforementioned right.

A period of occasional work for a total duration of six months is not considered to be an interruption of unemployment.

 

Your right to disability pension when you move within the European Union

According to the European Union (EU) legislation of Member States in terms of disability benefits, such legislations can be divided into two types:

  • States of “type A” legislation – according to this legislation, the amount of disability pension does not depend on the duration of the period of insurance or residence, but in order to exercise the right to a disability pension, the person must be insured in that particular state at the moment when invalidity occurred.
  • States of “type B” legislationaccording to this legislation, the amount of disability pension depends on the duration of insurance or residence and is calculated according to the same rules as the old-age pension.

Disability pensions from Croatian insurance incurred due to disease or non-work related injury are classified as “type B” pensions.

When you submit an application for disability pension, the competent authority of the Member State will take into account the insurance periods or residence periods in another Member State if this is necessary for the recognition of the right to a disability pension.

Each Member State applies its national regulations when determining the degree of disability.

Disability pension will be paid regardless of where you reside (in which Member State).

 

Occupational rehabilitation

Occupational rehabilitation is a set of measures and activities in accordance with the regulations on occupational rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities, which are being carried out in order to enable the disabled person to work while preserving their remaining working capacities.

The right to occupational rehabilitation is compulsory if the insured person has a reduction of working capacity with the remaining working capacity before the age of 55, subject to the completed pensionable insurance for obtaining the right to a disability pension. Insured persons whose reduced working ability with the remaining working ability is due to an injury at work or occupational injury, are entitled to occupational rehabilitation regardless of the pensionable insurance.

The Institute for expert evaluation, occupational rehabilitation, and employment of persons with disabilities (ZOSI) must determine for the insured person the remaining working capacity for tasks other than those they have done until then.

Occupational rehabilitation of persons with disabilities is carried out by a specialized public institution, and after the rehabilitation has been carried out, the Croatian Employment Service mediates in the employment of these persons.

Insured persons with recognised right to occupational rehabilitation are trained and employed according to the regulations governing the procedures for persons with disabilities.

The costs of occupational rehabilitation for insured persons are borne by the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute (hereinafter: the Institute) or are financed from the state budget, and such costs include the costs of training or education, transportation, accommodation, meals (in certain cases) and salary compensations.

During the period of professional rehabilitation, the disabled worker is entitled to salary compensation which cannot be lower than the lowest monthly gross salary payable to the worker for full-time employment, stipulated by the minimum wage allowance in the Republic of Croatia.

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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

The procedure for exercising the right is initiated by the chosen doctor of primary health care in case of employed persons, or persons with the status of insured persons. The complete medical documentation, in the prescribed scope and content, is prepared by the physician of the insured person which, together with his/her opinion, it is submitted to the Institute for the purpose of assessing the disability

The procedure may also be initiated at the request of the party, if the person is unemployed, i.e. if the person is not insured at the time of filing the application. Applications are submitted to the branch office of the Institute according to the place of permanent and temporary residence of the applicant, and if the applicant’s place of residence is located abroad, the regional service of last insurance is competent for this matter.

In this case, in Croatia, the competent district service or the Office of the Institute, in whose area the applicant’s last insurances was, is competent to decide on the right.

An insured person is entitled to a disability pension from the date the partial or complete loss of working capacity occurred, but the right may also be exercised from a later date depending on the submitted application and the date on which loss of working capacity occurred.

The insured person, the beneficiary of a disability pension, is subject to a check-up within 3 years of the stated reduction in working capacity, partial or total loss of working capacity. In the event that a beneficiary fails to respond to a check-up, and there are no justified reasons for this, the payment of the benefit is suspended and will be reinstated on the first day of the month following the month in which the check-up was performed, and at most for the previous twelve months.

The beneficiary of a disability pension who, after retirement, has not acquired the status of an employed or self-employed person, or has not completed at least one year of insurance, cannot exercise the right to an old-age pension.

Thus, the fact that the beneficiary of a disability pension due to a professional disability or a partial loss of working capacity has reached the age of retirement age is not the basis for obtaining the right to an old-age pension.

All disability pension beneficiaries, due to complete loss of their working capacity realized under the Pension Insurance Act, as well as disability pension beneficiaries due to general incapacity for work achieved under the general regulations at the day they reach the prescribed age, are ex officio converted to the old-age pension rights in the same amount. It is not necessary for beneficiaries of these pensions to fulfil the conditions for acquiring the right to old-age pension, they just need to reach the prescribed age in order to convert to the old-age pension. The amount of an old-age pension is determined in the same amount in which the disability pension was established at the day the disability occurred.

Reduced working capacity is when insured persons who, due to permanent changes in their health insurance, are no longer capable to work on their jobs in duration of 3.5 hours per day. In cases when working capacity is reduced by more than half in comparison to healthy workers of same qualifications, it is assessed whether the insured person has a residual working capacity or can he or she be able to qualify for other full-time employment with regard to the age (under 53 years of age), medical condition and education, and by taking into account his or her occupational rehabilitation.

Disabled workers who acquired the right to occupational rehabilitation due to non-work injury or disease have the right to salary compensation due to occupational rehabilitation in the amount of disability pension due to partial loss of working capacity, from the date of the reduction of working capacity with remaining working capacity until the date of commencement of occupational rehabilitation and from the date of completion of occupational rehabilitation until employment at the appropriate workplace.

During occupational rehabilitation, they are entitled to salary compensation due to occupational rehabilitation in the amount of disability pension due to complete loss of working capacity.

A disabled worker who has acquired the right to occupational rehabilitation due to non-work injury or illness, the salary compensation during occupational rehabilitation may not be lower than the lowest monthly gross salary payable to a worker for full-time employment, determined by a statutory minimum wage.

Disabled workers who acquired the right to occupational rehabilitation due to work injury or occupational disease have the right to salary compensation due to occupational rehabilitation in the amount of disability pension due to complete loss of working capacity for 40 years of completed qualifying periods, from the date of the reduction of working capacity with remaining working capacity until the date of commencement of occupational rehabilitation, during occupational rehabilitation and from the date of completion of occupational rehabilitation until employment at the appropriate workplace.

A disabled worker who has acquired the right to professional rehabilitation due to injury at work or occupational illness is entitled to salary compensation during professional rehabilitation in the amount that cannot be lower than the lowest monthly gross salary payable to a worker for full-time employment, determined by a statutory minimum wage.

Disabled workers also have the tight to salary compensation due to occupational rehabilitation during the subsequent medical treatment, i.e. medical rehabilitation to which they were referred during the exercise of the right to professional rehabilitation caused by illness and other causes, due to which they are temporarily unable to work in accordance with the provisions on compulsory health insurance, as well as during their adaptation to work.

Partial loss of working ability exists when an insured person has a reduction in working ability, and the insured person may, depending on age, health, education, and ability, work on “adapted jobs” of the same or similar level of education that correspond to their past jobs, at least 70% of the time, and cannot be habilitated to work full time in other jobs with professional rehabilitation.

There is a complete loss of working ability when, compared to a healthy insured person of identical or similar education, due to changes in health that cannot be eliminated by treatment, a permanent loss of working ability without any remaining working ability occurs.

A beneficiary of a disability pension due to a professional inability for work, and a beneficiary of a disability pension due to the general inability to work cannot exercise the right to an old-age pension if they have not completed at least one year of insurance after the disability pension has been obtained.

Thus, the age alone is not the basis to acquire the right to an old-age pension for disability pension beneficiary due to a professional inability to work.  However, if a beneficiary of a disability pension due to a professional inability to work gets employed (hence as an insured person) and acquires the conditions for an old-age pension, they can exercise it.

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