By January 2018, the number receiving disability welfare in Switzerland had dropped to 217,200, 40,300 fewer than in 2006 when the number reached a record 257,500.
Switzerland’s Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO) attributes the reduction to an occupational rehabilitation programme started in 2008, and disability welfare fraud investigations.
In 2017, 40,800 disability beneficiaries were eligible for the occupational rehabilitation programme, designed to help get people back into work.
Last year, investigators went after 2,130 people suspected of disability welfare fraud. 630 cases of fraud (30% of the total) were confirmed. This work, which cost CHF 8 million, is expected to save CHF 178 million in future benefit payments.
More rigorous investigations could be launched in the future. Switzerland’s parliament recently adopted new laws authorising social welfare agencies to use detectives to gather information on suspected fraudsters. The new investigative powers can also be used on those suspected of fraudulently receiving welfare related to an accident, healthcare, pension or unemployment.
Sound and video recording and the use of GPS trackers and drones, in certain circumstances, is now permitted.
Some do not approve of this new social welfare snooping and have launched a referendum to challenge what they describe as an unnecessarily heavy-handed invasion of privacy. So far around 15,000 of the 50,000 signatures required before 5 July 2018, have been collected, according to the website wecollect.ch.