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How to supplement your SU with a disability allowance

For many higher education students in Denmark, the combination of the state educational grant SU (Statens Uddannelsesstøtte), combined with a salary from their student job, makes it possible for them to live independently of their parents or guardians.

Photographs: Unsplash

Text: Michaela Medveďová & Sara R. Newell

For many young people with special needs, having a student job is impossible due to a physical or mental disability. Therefore, students with special needs can apply for a disability allowance as a supplement to SU.

How to qualify for a disability allowance

According to Uddannelses - og Forskningsstyrelsen, the first prerequisite for meeting the requirements for a disability allowance is qualifying for SU. This means you must be enrolled and an active student of a study programme recognised by the SU office. In addition, you must be at least 18 years old, a Danish citizen or granted equal status, apply for SU, and your income must be below a predetermined limit set to qualify for SU. Furthermore, you must not receive any other types of public support, benefits, or similar.

To qualify for a disability allowance, you need to have a medically-documented diagnosis of a permanent mental or physical disability that prevents you from working.

To get a disability allowance, the amount of money you are allowed to earn is also reduced. As with many other types of disability benefits that one may qualify for in theory, application processes are often lengthy and associated with considerable bureaucracy. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that a person with a disability with have their application approved, even if they meet the necessary requirements.

How to apply for the allowance

You can apply for the disability allowance online on the website, but only after applying and qualifying for SU. When applying for the disability allowance, it is necessary to describe and document your mental or physical disability in detail, as a higher level of detail can help to speed up the assessment process. This means uploading medical documentation, statements from doctors, medical opinions, or documentation about past sick leave. Documentation should include information about the diagnosis, the symptoms of the disability or illness, how they affect the ability to work, and the treatment received or scheduled.

"To qualify for a disability allowance, you need to have a medically-documented diagnosis of a permanent mental or physical disability that prevents you from working."

What happens next?

After you apply, your claim for disability allowance is assessed by Uddannelses- og Forskningsstyrelsen (or Danish Agency for Education and Research). The starting point is the assessment of your medical documentation.

The focus is on the following:

  • Duration of your disability - the mental or physical disability in question must be permanent and will not likely improve with treatment over time. However, in case of an accident and following treatment where the outcome is unclear, the agency can grant a time-limited right to disability allowance.

  • The severity of your disability has to be to such a degree that you can work only in a minimal capacity. The agency also considers the duration and frequency of your illness.

  • Whether you have tried all types or options for treatment.

The Danish Agency for Education and Research states you can expect an answer to your application approximately four months after you have sent it in, even though additional information may need to be supplemented. It is, however, not unusual for the assessment process to take considerably longer than the stated four months.

If you qualify for the allowance, it will be paid out along with your SU.

The 2023 rate for the disability allowance before tax is as follows:

  • For higher education, it was 9,372 DKK per month.

  • For vocational training, it was 5,878 DKK per month.

Do you need to submit a complaint?

If you receive a rejection, you can appeal the decision directly to the Danish Agency for Education and Research, for example, with new medical information or documentation. Unfortunately, there is no higher authority to which you can file a complaint other than directly back to the Agency for Education and Research.

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