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Disability pension payments for over 1,000 people to continue after suspension fears

In this June 15, 2015 file photo, the Japan Pension Service's Akita bureau is seen in the city of Akita. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The Japan Pension Service has decided to reverse course and continue to pay basic disability pensions to more than 1,000 recipients with less severe disabilities, after the Mainichi Shimbun reported that the service was considering terminating them.

The service apparently made the decision out of concern for people with disabilities in danger of losing the financial support despite no improvement in their conditions.

The 1,010 recipients who faced loss of basic disability pension coverage were people with illnesses such as heart problems or diabetes that developed before they turned 20. They received a basic disability pension of around 800,000 yen to 1 million yen annually.

The service centralized the previously prefectural office-based disability pension application system in April last year, and sent out notices this past December and January telling the recipients that it had been determined that they do not meet the criteria for basic disability pension benefits. The service also stated in the notice that payments would continue for fiscal 2018. Many recipients complained that the potential payment suspension was not reasonable because their conditions are not improving.

After a Mainichi report on the situation, Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Katsunobu Kato announced that he would look into the matter, and the ministry and the pension service began reviewing how to handle the payments.

Disability pension payments have apparently been suspended to at least dozens of people since April of last year, but the pension service intends to resume those payments. However, the measure applies only to existing recipients, and it is not clear if new applicants will be able to receive the same coverage.

(Japanese original by Keisuke Harada and Ryosuke Abe, Medical Welfare News Department)

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