Benefits and insurances when Opting-in is applicable to you in sex work

When are you entitled to benefits or social assistance and where can you apply for aid?
What happens when the owner no longer wants to make use of your services or when you become ill for a long time and are unable to work – and you do not have enough income? When structural conditionality/opting-in is applicable to you then you are not (in contrast to the situation in which you are an employee) entitled to unemployment benefit, sickness benefit or an incapacity benefit under the Work and Income (Ability to Work) Act (WIA).
What can you do?

Occupational disability insurance
When structural conditionality is applicable to you then your income could stop if you become ill or unable to work due to an occupational disability. For this reason you need to give consideration about how you will tackle the problem before it arises.
If you don't have any savings or other funds you can use to bridge a period without income then you can give consideration to taking out sickness benefits and/or occupational disability insurance.
You can make one of three forms of arrangements:

1. Private insurance
Many private insurance companies offer sickness benefits and disability insurance. The insurance they offer ranges from simple basic packages with a defined benefit to more extensive variants which provide more flexibility. The policy conditions vary greatly between insurance companies and policies. It is wise to read the conditions carefully and decide what you find important or less important. Many insurance companies will issue you a quotation without obligations.
The following issues will then be important:

  • The amount of the benefits: your insured income
  • The criteria for illness and disability.
  • The qualifying period or excess period, when should the payment of the benefit begin?
  • Which risks are insured and does this meet your needs?
  • The maximum period of the payment of the benefit
  • Flexibility: can the insured income be increased at a later date?
  • Indexation: will the benefit increase with price increases?

2. Voluntary participation in Sickness Benefit Act and/or Work and Income (Ability to Work) Act (WIA) insurance (Employee Insurance Agency, UWV)
The Sickness Benefits Act and Work and Income (Ability to Work) Act offer former employees an opportunity to continue these insurances voluntarily with the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV).
This voluntary insurance is available to persons who had been compulsorily insured as employees during at least the twelve preceding months. This voluntary insurance is also available to persons who had previously received benefits under these forms of employee insurance.
You must apply within three months (thirteen weeks) after the termination of your compulsory insurance. For this reason it is important to give consideration to voluntary insurance in good time.
More information about this voluntary insurance.

3. Safety-net insurance
Insurance companies offer, subject to certain conditions, 'safety net' insurance for risks that are difficult to insure. This relates, for example, to persons who been refused by other insurance companies or who can only take out insurance with exclusions or for a higher premium.

Pregnancy
Is structural conditionality applicable to you, and have you become pregnant? If so you can, subject to conditions, apply to the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) for a pregnancy benefit. This benefit is governed by the Zelfstandig en Zwanger ('Self-employed and pregnant', ZEZ) scheme and, for this reason, is referred to as a ZEZ benefit.
The pregnancy benefit is paid for at least 16 weeks. The duration of the leave is governed by the same rules applicable to employees. This means that you can begin your pregnancy leave between 6 to 4 weeks before the due date (expected date of birth).

Social assistance
If you suddenly lose your job you can apply for social assistance. This benefit helps you until you find a new job.
However, as certain conditions need to be met this benefit is not available to everyone: you will not usually be entitled to social assistance, for example, when your partner pays for your upkeep or you have an owner-occupied home.
You apply for social assistance at the UWV WERKbedrijf branch in your town or region. UWV WERKbedrijf passes your application on to the municipality. The municipality makes a decision within eight weeks and sends you a letter with its decision on your application.
Information about applying for a benefit.

Pension
You also need to give consideration to your provisions for your old age. What will you live on when you retire?
The State old-age pension (AOW) is a form of insurance. Everyone who lives or works in the Netherlands (where 'works' means that you pay income tax on the ages you earn in paid employment in the Netherlands) is insured. Your nationality is not of relevance. You accrue 2% of your State old-age pension in each year in which you are insured. You receive a full State old-age pension when you have been insured during the full 50 years before your retirement date.
If you have lived or worked outside the Netherlands during part of this time then you may receive a lower State old-age pension. In addition, a small group of people live in the Netherlands but are not insured for the State old-age pension. 

The age at which the State old-age pension begins is currently being increased to age 67 in 2013 and, as from 2014, will be dependent on the life expectancy figures. You can find out the age at which you will be entitled to your State old-age pension at Rijksoverheid.nl 
Note that the Government intends to increase the age at which the State old-age pension begins more rapidly than stated above. You need to give consideration now to whether you wish to save supplemental provisions for your old age to increase your State old-age pension.

More information
Do you want to know exactly what you are entitled to and which conditions you must meet?
If so, surf to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment's website or call 14 00.
Information about a pregnancy benefit (only in Dutch).

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