Sunday 21 February 2010

What's for me in the welfare state?

Asking the welfare state

I finally decided to check to find out if for all the 9 years of working in the Netherlands I was entitled to any help in respect to having been out of work for so long and been ill for about the same duration of time.

Considering I had made other plans to actualise part of my real estate without much success advice I had received meant I should assess those possibilities.

Late in December, I thought my chemotherapy treatment was coming to an end so I registered as unemployed looking for work as well as for income support.

Good for work, much less for welfare

The work coach was quite helpful for the registration for the income support end was literally inscrutable, the forms on the Internet just went page after page and my knowledge of Dutch stumbled at the ambiguities of meaning, intent and context, I was getting nowhere.

Eventually, I decided to call the benefit office for all the help they could offer in filling in the forms explaining that I had been unable to effectively search for work because the chemotherapy really only gave me two weeks of utility every month.

Sadly, the strength of the chemotherapy knocked me out for more or less a week, if I could get very short term contracts for my services, maybe that can be tailored but the schemes had to be quite specific.

Forms and boxes

A meeting had been scheduled for last Friday in relation to the registration done in December and my work coach sent me a whole range of paper forms to fill in which I did to the best of my ability barring the ambiguous points.

I took copies of contracts, salary slips, hospital appointments, prospects and every other detail I could find on my situation to the meeting and we just got on with filling in the forms which we did very well without having to use the scheduled meeting for a form-filling coach.

It’s on some computer

I was surprised at the amount of information the system had on me, apart from all my employment contracts since 2002, I found that at least for part of penultimate contract and the last contract they also had the full details of what hit my bank account.

The SUWINET information system was an amazing Big Brother monitor of my financial activities, I questioned why I had to fill the forms with information they already had and could easily access by typing in my Social Security Number.

The way information is so interlinked in scary to say the least; it is on some computer somewhere and pervasively accessible to almost anyone who has authority to view it including my work coach.

We filled in all the forms, photocopied all the documents and I asked for copies of what had been recorded in the SUWINET system and the forms were sent by the internal postage network of the social security office.

Using the support system

It was quite a strange world for me, I had not visited a social security office since the early months of 1991 and like I said before, it was all the more difficult because I never learnt how that system worked because I have always been in employment and when I had breaks, I never had difficulties with those breaks.

I am however not sure of what I am really entitled to and if any claim will be backdated to some point for support and amelioration – such was the self-confidence in getting by that thinking of the safety of social security and the welfare state never really occurred to me until friends suggested I explore that area and it took some convincing to make that move.

In any case, I now have just 5 weeks to aggressively seek new employment to hopefully start work by the beginning of April at the latest, a few more meetings with creditors and medical personnel are planned – just wish me well with every good fortune.


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