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Disability insurance scheme stuck in the red

The deficit in Switzerland's disability insurance scheme has remained unchanged for 2007 at SFr1.6 billion ($1.4 billion), with 490,000 people receiving support.

The fund paid out almost SFr11.9 billion last year, an increase of 3.9 per cent on 2006. Some 20,000 more people qualified for some level of assistance.

The latest figures released by the Federal Statistics Office show that 40,000 monthly benefit recipients live abroad.

Some SFr6.5 billion was spent on fixed payments, on average SFr1,767 per person per month. The rest went on workforce re-integration schemes, unemployment assistance and daily stipends.

Men are more likely to receive disability benefit than women, with one in five men already qualifying by retirement age. The rate for the whole population is 5.3 per cent, compared to 3.2 per cent in 1992.