Disability pension

Disability pension

The disability pension is a benefit available to people who cannot be gainfully employed on ill health grounds.

The disability pension is available to a person who:

  • is incapable of work,
  • has completed a qualifying insurance period (the sum of contributory and non-contributory periods) of at least 5 years during 10 years before the date on which the claim was submitted or the incapacity for work arose; if the incapacity arose when the person concerned was under 30 years of age, the required insurance period is correspondingly shorter; a person whose incapacity results from an accident on the way to or from work does not have to fulfil this condition,
  • has become incapable of work during a contributory and non-contributory period specified in the Old-Age Pension Act, or within 18 months of the end of that period; a person who has at least 20 years (woman) or 25 years (man) of contributory and non-contributory periods and is totally incapable of work does not need to fulfil this condition,
  • does not have the established right to an old-age pension from the Social Insurance Fund (FUS) or does not fulfil the conditions to have it established.

The requirement of documenting 5 years of qualifying insurance period within 10 years before the incapacity for work arose or the person concerned submitted the claim does not have to be fulfilled also by a person who meets both of the following conditions:

  • has been recognised as completely incapable of work,
  • his/her insurance period was at least 25 years (woman) or 30 years (man).

Decisions (certificates) for the purposes of social insurance benefits and other benefits paid by the Social Insurance Institution are issued by ZUS certifying doctors and ZUS medical boards. They assess incapacity for work and its degree on the basis of the insured person’s medical records and examination. They also establish: 

  • the day when the incapacity for work occurred,
  • whether the incapacity for work is permanent, and if not, how long it is likely to last,
  • potential causality of incapacity for work or death with certain circumstances,
  • whether the insured person is incapable of independent existence,
  • whether the insured person can and should retrain.

Person incapable of work means a person who has lost, completely or partly, earning capacity due to disturbance of body fitness and retraining does not promise restoration of his or her earning capacity.

Completely incapable of work is a person who has lost capability for any work.

Partly incapable of work is a person who has lost – to a considerable degree – capability for work corresponding to his or her qualifications.

ZUS certifying doctor or ZUS medical board certifies incapacity for work for a maximum of 5 years. This period may be longer if, according to medical knowledge, there is no prognosis as to restoration of earning capacity by the insured person before the lapse of this period. The pension is due to the insured person during the period of certified incapacity for work, which is indicated by ZUS in the decision.

ZUS medical board examines the case if:

  • the person concerned disagrees with the decision of ZUS certifying doctor and has lodged an objection within 14 days of the day on which he/she had received the decision,
  • ZUS President raises an objection that the decision is defective within 14 days of the date on which ZUS certifying doctor issued the decision.

The following constitute the basis for ZUS decision on the disability pension:

  • ZUS certifying doctor’s decision which has not been opposed or claimed defective,
  • ZUS medical board’s ruling.

The right to disability pension due to accident at work or occupational disease is granted irrespective of the duration of accident insurance period and irrespective of the date of occurrence of this incapacity.

Pension in respect of total incapacity for work amounts to:

  • 24% of the base amount,
    • + 1.3% of the assessment basis for each contributory year,
    • + 0.7% oof the assessment basis for each non-contributory year (non-contributory periods are taken into account only in respect of that part which does not exceed 1/3 of the proven contributory periods),
    • + 0.7% of the assessment basis for each year of the period which the pensioner lacks to reach the full 25-year insurance period – from the day of submitting the pension claim to the day on which the pensioner would have reached 60 years of age, i.e., the retirement age for women.

Accident at work means a sudden occurrence, arising out of external cause and resulting in injury or death, which was associated with work.

An occupational disease is a disease specified in a list of occupational diseases, if it was caused by harmful agents in the working environment or by a manner in which the work was performed.

The pension for a person who is partly incapable of work is payable at a rate of 75% of pension for a person completely incapable of work.

The person entitled to the pension who has been recognised by ZUS certifying doctor as being completely incapable of work and of independent existence is entitled to a nursing supplementary allowance.

The amount of pension in respect of accident at work or occupational disease is calculated as the amount of the disability pension. However, it cannot be lower than:

  • 60% of the pension assessment basis – for a person partly incapable of work,
  • 80% of the pension assessment basis – for a person completely incapable of work,
  • 100% of the pension assessment basis – for a person eligible for the training pension.

The basis of assessment of the pension in respect of incapacity for work due to accident at work or occupational disease may be determined by ZUS using the basis assessment index higher than 250%. If ZUS applies such an index, the stated guarantees do not apply.

In 2021, ZUS paid out disability pensions to 638.6 thousand insured persons. Their average amount was PLN 2,088.27 per month.

In 2021, a monthly average of 148.3 thousand persons received a pension in respect of accidents at work and occupational diseases, of which:

  • 72.2 thousand persons due to occupational diseases,
  • 66.8 thousand persons due to accidents at work,
  • 9.3 thousand persons due to accidents on the way to or from work.

Legal status as of 2022