Disability Insurance (IV)

Anyone who has an illness that may soon make them unable to work, or who becomes partly or fully incapacitated, is entitled to benefits from Switzerland's disability insurance scheme. A wide range of benefits is available, from job coaching to a full pension.

I haven't been able to work for some time, for health reasons. Should I register for disability insurance?

Anyone who is unable to work for longer than 30 days as a result of illness can apply to be considered for early integration in to Switzerland's disability insurance scheme (known as "IV"). However this application may also be submitted by a third party – such as a doctor, employer or daily benefits insurer. It may even be made against the will of the employee.

What does "early integration" mean in practice?

The disability insurance body will investigate whether an integration programme will restore, maintain or improve your ability to earn a living. These programmes might be medical (e.g. physiotherapy) or professional (e.g. job placement or careers advice) in nature, or relate to specific tools or equipment (e.g. structural changes at the workplace).

When am I entitled to claim a disability pension?

Insureds whose ability to earn an income or do their previous work (such as basic housework) as a result of poor health are entitled to claim a disability pension. To claim, your ability to work must have been reduced by at least 40% for 360 more or less consecutive days. Once this year has passed, and if a programme to reintegrate you into the workforce is not possible, you are entitled to claim a pension from the disability insurance scheme. The disability pension is paid out at the earliest six months after the original benefits claim. For further information, please visit www.ahv-iv.info (German, French and Italian). 

What if I can't support myself on my disability pension?

If you receive a disability pension, and it – together with any other income you may have – is not enough to cover minimal living costs, you are entitled to claim supplementary benefits. Your application for supplementary benefits should generally be submitted to the local authority office responsible for the Pillar 1 state (AHV) pension. The factsheets ("Merkblätter") on the AHV/IV information office website set out what are recognised as minimal living costs, and how much of income and/or assets are to be counted as earnings. These factsheets (5.01 and 5.02 respectively) are available from the AHV compensation office and its branches, or can be downloaded from www.ahv-iv.info.

Can I take a part-time job without risking my disability pension?

Essentially, yes. It is important to remember, however, that anyone who receives a full disability pension should take care that their earned income does not exceed 30% of what's known as their "ability income". This is the income which could have been earned without the disability. This is always conditional on your having a doctor's certificate that confirms that you are no longer able to work. Please note that if you are signed off by the doctor as 100% incapacitated, you cannot take on any official part-time work.

Will the disability insurance people even notice if I'm working (more) again?

Yes, because the disability insurance offices know the contributions that each insured person pays into the AHV/IV scheme from their earned income. With this information, it is easy for them to work out how much you are earning.

What do I have to tell the disability insurance people?

You must tell your disability insurance office immediately about any change to your health or your earnings which might affect your pension claim. Anyone who doesn't comply with their legal duty to report these facts risks having to repay the benefits that they have already received.