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Eläkeläinen kolikko ja kukkaro kädessä.

Retirees on an old-age pension who have suffered from disability during their working life struggle with making ends meet nearly twice as often as other retirees on an old-age pension.

A recent study conducted at the Finnish Centre for Pensions shows that pensioners who have retired on a disability pension due to mental illnesses struggle particularly much with economic difficulties in old age.

”Retirees who have suffered from a reduced ability to work struggle more often than other retirees with meeting the costs of daily basic necessities such as medication, health care, living and transport service. They often have smaller pensions and higher health-related expenses than do other retirees” explains senior researcher Anu Polvinen (Finnish Centre for Pensions).

Polvinen’s research revealed that 5 per cent of the retirees on an old-age pension who have also received a disability pension find it very difficult, and 50 per cent somewhat difficult, to cover their health expenses. Of other old-age pension recipients, only 1 per cent find it very difficult, and 25 per cent somewhat difficult, to cover their health expenses.

Polvinen stresses that preventing disability is very important not only for the individual’s own career but also for income in retirement.

“Disability casts its shadows far into the later stages of a person’s life. Retirees who have previously received a disability pension are clearly less satisfied with their lives than other retirees on an old-age pension.”

Every fourth retire on a disability pension before getting an old-age pension

Around 25 per cent of the pensioners on an old-age pension received a disability pension first.

The main causes of disability are mental and behavioural disorders.

Those who have retired on a disability pension due to mental disorders are, on average, younger than those retiring due to musculoskeletal diseases. That is why they may have spent more time on a disability pension than on average.

The average monthly disability pension in Finland is 1,100 euros. The average monthly old-age pension is 1,700 euros per month.

Study included around 2,000 Finnish citizens

A total of 2,200 retirees (aged 63–68 years) on an old-age pension participated in the study. Of them, 560 had previously received a disability pension. The study is based on survey data collected by the Finnish Centre for Pensions, combined with its register data on disability pensions.

Anu Polvinen’s research data Explanations for economic difficulties among old-age pensioners previously on disability pension was published in the European Journal of Public Health.

More information

Anu Polvinen, Senior Researcher, phone +358 29 411 2218, anu.polvinen(at)

Finnish Centre for Pensions – Central body of and expert on statutory earnings-related pensions