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Mental problems top Finland's disability pensions listing

Depression has become a particularly common reason for retirement on a disability pension.

helsinkiläisten siluetteja ja heijastuksia lätäköissä
Image: Pascal Boegli / AOP

For the first time, mental disorders surpassed musculo-skeletal ailments as the main cause for retirement on a disability pension, according to new figures released by the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

Disability pensions granted for mental disorders showed a clear rise in 2016. Depression now has become a particularly common reason for retirement on a disability pension for women , both young women and those nearing their retirement age.

Last year, altogether nearly 20,300 persons retired on an earnings-related disability pension in Finland. Disability pensions granted based on mental disorders made up 33 percent of new pensions granted. The next most common category, at 31 percent was musculo-skeletal diseases.

"This can be considered an historical change. The number of disability pensions granted based on mental disorders has grown by 20 percent since 2016," says pensions centre statistics manager Tiina Palotie-Heino.

Two-thirds women

The average age of the new disability pension retirees in 2019 was 52. A slight majority, at 54 percent were women.

However, the gender difference was starker for pensions granted to people diagnosed with mental disorders. Three out of five of them were women.

In recent years, the number of disability pensions granted due to depression has grown significantly among women under 35 years of age and over 60.

"In nearly all age groups, the number of women retiring on a disability pension due to depression is twice as high as that of men," points out Palotie-Heino.

In general, people who retire because of mental disorders are usually younger than other retirees on disability pensions, and they less often return to work than those who suffer from disorders in other categories.

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