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Authorities combat disability insurance abuse

The Federal Social Insurance Office says it is stepping up the fight against abuse of disability claims abroad.

On Friday, the office announced it was launching a pilot project to monitor claimants living in Kosovo and Thailand in order to uncover cases of fraud.

A revision of Swiss laws, which came into force on January 1, 2008, allows the Swiss authorities to investigate people suspected of cheating the system.

The company SGS has been contracted to do the monitoring in Thailand and the firm AVUS will perform the same task in Kosovo. The social insurance office said these companies were chosen because of their knowledge of the regional, economic and political situations in these states.

The aim of the pilot project is to gain experience in two countries where the office believes there is a great potential for disability insurance claimants to cheat the Swiss government.

Around 340 claimants live in Thailand and 300 in Kosovo.

People living abroad who draw Swiss disability benefits account for 15 per cent of all claims.

The office said it is difficult to check the overseas claims due to the questionable reliability of information including details about income and doctors' reports.