Disability pension payment to be resumed

July 4 , 2018

Yamamoto speaks out at Upper House Committee on Health, Welfare and Labor on Jul. 3Yamamoto speaks out at Upper House Committee on Health, Welfare and Labor on Jul. 3

Komeito House of Councillors member Kanae Yamamoto queried Minister of Health, Welfare and Labor Katsunobu Kato at an Upper House Health, Welfare and Labor Committee hearing on June 3 on the suspension of disability pension payments to certain recipients.

Under a National Pension Service (NPS) program to consolidate basic disability pension procedures, the ministry recently required 1,010 pensioners to resubmit their medical eligibility following examination by ministry-certified physicians. In response to Yamamoto’s query, Kato said steps would be taken to avoid or allay such suspensions.

The NPS consolidation was instituted to eliminate differences in medical evaluations by region, with the task of overseeing examinations removed from prefectural governments and entrusted to the Tokyo-based Disability Pension Center (DPC) from April 2017. As a result, a number of recipients under the age of 20 were deemed ineligible for disability pension and required to resubmit their medical certification by the end of this month.

Their plight was brought up at another Upper House committee hearing on June 1 by Komeito’s Keigo Masuya, who called for the adoption of special measures to halt the suspension of disability payments. Yamamoto followed that up by recommending that pre-consolidation certifications should remain valid unless a DPC physician diagnoses a pensioner with a major change in disability level—a point with which the health, welfare and labor minister essentially agreed.

Yamamoto also pointed out that 2,933 recipients with disabilities that occurred after the age of 20 had their disability pension payments suspended upon post-consolidation examinations. According to a National Pension Service study, she explained, some 14% disability pensioners had pension payments suspended despite the fact that their DPC medical evaluation showed no sign of change in their disabilities. She thus called for a thorough review of such cases.

On another note, Yamamoto urged the ministry to provide greater assistance to enable households on welfare to send their children to higher education institutes, including four-year universities. She introduced a booklet prepared by the municipality of Sakai in Osaka prefecture that offers reader-friendly information on programs and counseling services for impoverished aspirants of higher education and urged the ministry to issue similar publications.