Bureaucracy a big burden for young people with disabilities: National Ombudsman
Bureaucracy makes it difficult to impossible for young people with disabilities to become financially independent, National Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen concluded after an investigation. These young people are not in a good situation, and the government must significantly improve that, he said, Trouw reports.
The National Ombudsman and his team spoke to young people with an occupational disability who receive a Wajong benefit from the benefits agency UWV or a Participation Act benefit through the municipality. The laws young people with disabilities have to deal with are so complex and rigid that they often hinder instead of help, the Ombudsman concluded.
As soon as something changes in their lives, it affects their benefits. But the exact consequences of such a change are often unclear. That often results in young people with a disability running into financial problems. Some do not dare to start working or move house, for example, because they don’t know what it would mean for their income, Van Zutphen found.
Almost all young people with disabilities said they struggle with how much administration they have to keep up. They have to apply for certain allowances every year, even if nothing has changed about their situation.
According to Van Zutphen, the government too often assumes that these young people will manage on their own or can rely on their social networks. He concluded that young people with disabilities do not actually belong in the Participation Act. The law assumes they can participate in society the same way as others. “Because of their health problems, they do not have the same opportunities.”
The National Ombudsman suggested that the government arrange more help for young people with disabilities in all areas of their life - from work to housing. He advocated for the use of personal counselors. “Someone who stands next to the young people and who mediates where necessary between the government authorities and the young people themselves.” That can be arranged through the Social Support Act.
He also recommended raising the additional income limit so the young working people can keep more of their income. The government must also more clearly explain how changes in their life will affect their income so that they are not caught off guard by an additional tax assessment or lower benefit.