What is the purpose of social security

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The Federal Law on Disability Insurance (IVG) was passed in 1959 after an extremely short period of preparation, and the IV was introduced in 1960. An administrative structure had to be found within a short period of time that would allow the insured's contributions to be collected, the entitlement to benefits to be checked in individual cases and pensions and daily allowances to be paid out. In addition, the measures for professional integration provided for in the IVG had to be implemented in practice.

Decentralized structures: AHV compensation funds, IV commissions and regional offices

The legislature solved this task by using existing structures as far as possible. This led to a decentralized, complex organizational form that was not always easy to understand for the insured. In terms of financing (wage percentages, public contributions) and the pension system, the IV was based closely on the old-age and survivors' insurance (AHV). In particular, the compensation fund system was adopted. The AHV compensation funds, which were largely funded by the employers' organizations, were also responsible for collecting IV contributions from 1960 (1960: 0.4 percent wage; since 1995: 1.4 percent wage) and for making decisions on benefits and the payment of cash benefits . In addition, the contributions and benefits were settled via the central compensation fund of the AHV. The legal process and supervision by the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO) were also based on the AHV law.

Unlike pension decisions by the AHV, the IV requires elaborate clarifications. The incapacity of an insured person or the need for retraining measures had to be assessed on a case-by-case basis by a specialist doctor or a social worker. For this purpose, the IVG provided for an IV commission for each canton, to which a doctor, an integration and vocational training specialist, a lawyer and a welfare worker should belong. These were part-time activities. At least one commissioner should be female. Administratively, the commission secretariats were affiliated with the cantonal AHV compensation funds. In addition, there were two commissions at federal level for federal employees and the Swiss abroad. The main task of the IV commissions was to prepare decisions on the degree of disability, the appropriateness of integration measures or pension entitlements for the attention of the compensation funds. Formally speaking, they had no decision-making authority of their own. However, the compensation offices were bound by the findings of the IV commissions.

The IVG also entrusted six to nine regional offices with the implementation of professional measures that were intended to help the principle of “integration before retirement” achieve a breakthrough. They performed purely executive tasks, such as career counseling or the placement of jobs. In this case, too, it was planned to entrust existing, mostly cantonal or privately funded advisory and placement agencies. The IV should also fall back on the already established integration centers and training workshops.

Reorganizations: more efficiency and closeness to the insured

The structures that were created in 1959 initially proved their worth. The first two IV revisions (1967, 1986) streamlined some processes, but did not bring much organizational change. From the end of the 1970s, however, those in charge of politics increasingly identified the need for reform. A working group headed by the St. Gallen economist Benno Lutz, which critically examined the organization of the IV against the background of the deteriorating financial situation of the social welfare organization and the debates about insurance fraud that flared up for the first time, made various reform proposals in 1978, which were only partially implemented . The FSIO set up independent medical and professional clarification centers (MEDAS and BEDAS) to facilitate the medical assessment of complex cases. Because of interventions by the disabled people's associations, the demand to reduce the size of the IV commissions was not implemented. The weaknesses of the commission system, which was based on the militia principle and involved numerous actors, became increasingly evident. The administrative focus shifted increasingly to the IV secretariats, which did not have their own competencies. In addition, many cantons started setting up their own regional offices.

It was not until the 3rd IV revision (1991) that a fundamental reorganization was planned, which has determined the IV structures to this day. The process has been accelerated and contact with the insured has been simplified. The core of the reform was the creation of cantonal IV offices that took over the functions of IV commissions and regional offices. According to the Federal Council's message, their responsibilities include “all actions that are necessary from receiving the application for benefits to being available”. In addition, there was the task of planning and monitoring integration measures. According to the Federal Council, the IV offices had to provide a “comprehensive range of services” in legal, medical, professional, social and administrative terms. The need for qualified specialists was correspondingly high. For the insured, the reorganization meant that they had a single point of contact with the responsible IV office. This made contact easier and increased participation, for example in the context of the hearing procedure, which was also expanded in 1987. On the other hand, the cooperation with the AHV compensation funds was retained. However, under the opposite sign: the IV offices themselves were now responsible for issuing the rulings. The compensation offices only took over the administrative calculation of the cash benefits and their payment.

Stronger controls, new tasks, financial independence

The trend towards greater integration of the areas of responsibility continued after the turn of the millennium. At the same time, the federal government increased its control over the IV offices. This applies above all to the medical sector, which has come under political pressure in view of the increasing number of new pensions and those receiving retirees with mental illness. The 4th IV revision (2003) provided for the establishment of regional medical services (RAD) which enabled IV doctors to examine insured persons themselves. The services are subject to technical supervision by the FSIO, but make independent decisions in individual cases. At the same time, the cooperation between IV and MEDAS intensified in their function as external assessment bodies. The MEDAS are mostly privately funded and work profit-oriented within the framework of an agreement with the BSV. Their independence was confirmed by the Federal Supreme Court in 2011, but the court demanded that the legal position of the insured against the IV be improved. This happened in 2012 with an amendment to the IV regulation.

The 5th IV revision (2006), which brought the idea of ​​integration and activation into the foreground against the background of the growing deficits in the IV and the simultaneous waiver of contribution increases, made early registration and early intervention new focal points of the IV offices. The aim is to initiate support and promotional measures before the insured persons concerned leave the work process and become pension recipients. By means of targeted integration measures, the IV offices are intended to strengthen the personal responsibility of the insured and their employability on the labor market. From the point of view of the authorities, an important element is the interinstitutional cooperation (IIZ), with which the activities of the IV, unemployment insurance and social assistance are to be better coordinated. This is to prevent unemployed people from falling through the social security network. For the IV offices, the IIZ brought about a significant increase in cooperation across institutional boundaries, for the insured it also meant an increase in control and dependencies. At the same time, the new occupational field of work integration specialists was created. Since the 6th IV revision (2011, in force since January 2012), the IV offices have also been responsible for making assistance contributions, which are intended to promote the independence of people with disabilities in everyday life.

There have also been innovations in financial terms recently. In order to prevent future cross-financing of the deficit IV from the state pension scheme and to ensure its liquidity, a new IV compensation fund was created in 2011. He received start-up capital of 5 billion francs from the AHV compensation fund. Since then, the IV has effectively been released into financial independence. As before, however, the AHV compensation offices are responsible for calculating entitlements and pensions as well as paying out IV benefits.

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