Rights of the disabled
By law, the disabled are entitled to general services and assistance. They shall have equal rights and enjoy living standards comparable to other members of society.
Disabled people have the right to education with appropriate support at all stages of education.
They also have the right to guidance and assistance in finding suitable employment.
The Icelandic national organization, „Thoskahjalp “, was established in 1976. The organization‘s objective is to „fight for the rights and promote the interests of people with intellectual disabilities/challenges, as well as other children and adults with disabilities, and to ensure that their rights are fully comparable to those of other citizens“, as stated in the statutes of the organization.
Housing, admission and residency
Everyone needs a roof over their head. For people with physical disabilities, access issues must be taken into account, and some need services and assistance within the home around the clock.
The disabled live, as others do, either in their own housing or in rented housing. Other forms of residence may include homes for the elderly, short-term care, sheltered housing, apartments or group homes, apartment complexes and social rental housing.
Applications for short-term care for disabled children/adults and for permanent housing are made to the regional offices for the disabled and to many of the municipal authorities.
Responsibility for the residency and housing issues of the disabled lies with the regional offices for the disabled, the Organisation of the Disabled in Iceland, local authorities and the social services operated by them. Their websites contain more detailed information.
Links of interest:
Education and employment
Disabled children are entitled to nursery school attendance and primary schooling in the municipality in which they have legal residence. Study should take place with support services. There is a special school for disabled children of elementary school age, in the Reykjavik area.
Disabled students in secondary schools shall, according to the law, have access to specialist assistance. Many secondary schools have special departments, vocational study programmes, and other courses specifically designed.
Fjölmennt, a continuing education and knowledge centre, provides various courses for disabled people and provides advice on other studies in collaboration with Mímir continuing education.
The University of Iceland offers a vocational diploma program in development therapy. Enrolment is every other year.
The disabled have access to a variety of training and education opportunities in order to increase their quality of life and general life skills. These include training, vocational training, university education, continuing education, retraining and distance learning.
The Organisation of the Disabled in Iceland, together with interest groups, associations and local authorities, provide advice and information relating to the education and employment available to the disabled.
Employment with the support of the Directorate of Labour is a means to employment for those who need help with getting a job in the private sector.
The Center for aid equipment at the Social Insurance Administration is responsible for issuing aid equipment to the disabled, and provides consultancy services. The approval of the Social Insurance Administration is required for contributions towards the cost of purchasing aid equipment.
Parents of disabled children and those providing children with services can borrow specialised development toys from toy collections maintained by the regional offices. The offices also provide various other services and parenting advice.
Disabled children and their families can seek the services of a support family. A child can stay with a support family for two to three days a month. The regional offices for the disabled provide further information on how to become a support family or obtain the services of a support family.
Summer camps for disabled children are available in some locations in Iceland and are run by local authorities, non-profit organisations, or individuals.
The disabled can apply for a parking card that allows them to park vehicles in parking spaces reserved for the disabled. Applications for such cards are processed by Chiefs of Police and District Commissioners.
Some of the larger municipalities operate travel services for the disabled. Such services must be ordered in advance. Rules on the number of trips and the charges, if any, for the service differ between municipalities. Passengers with disabilities travelling by air are entitled to a certain degree of assistance, free of charge, to navigate airports, as well as to special arrangements during the flight.
Disabled people are offered social home services and social assistance by the larger municipalities.
Some municipalities offer sports and leisure activities and other types of activities for the disabled.
Taxes, discounts and deductions
According to tax legislation, disability pension recipients and other benefit recipients may take advantage of deductions that reduce their income tax base. Most local authorities have established rules on various types of assistance for people with disabilities. The extent of the support varies and differs among municipalities. Disabled people may, for example, receive a discount on property taxes.
People with disabilities can, among other things, apply for subsidies for the operation of a car, cancellation of vehicle taxes, and fixed fees for home telephones. Disability pension recipients and children with care assessments are among those who pay less for the medicinal products they have to use. The Social Insurance Administration, moreover, contributes towards the dental expenses of people with disabilities.
Disabled people pay lower fares than is generally the case for travel on public buses.
Grants and benefits
Persons who have been assessed as disabled may be entitled to various benefit payments and grants. The payments, which may be determined according to a range of factors, are bound by the disability rating of the individual and his or her circumstances.
The disability pension recipient is advised to thoroughly examine the information and rules on income linking, as the majority of benefit categories are income-linked. Disability pension recipients must prepare, annually, an income estimate. This estimate forms the basis for calculating the benefits for the coming year. Administration sends benefit recipients a filled-in income estimate form, which they then correct if necessary.
The parents of children who are disabled or suffer from serious illness are entitled to care benefits. The payments may continue from the end of maternity/paternity leave until the child is aged 16 or 18. Spouses and those living with disability pension recipients may, under certain circumstances, be entitled to spouse or care benefits. Benefit recipients are obliged to notify the Social Insurance Administration of any changes to their circumstances.
Disability assessment and diagnosis of disability
The State Diagnostic and Counselling Centre is responsible for the examination and diagnosis of children with disabilities and other developmental deviations. Parents and relatives, moreover, may contact the centre for information and assistance, and the same applies to regional offices for the disabled.
The parents of children who are disabled or suffer from serious illness are entitled to care benefits. The payments may continue until the child is aged 16 or 18. Applications for payments are made by filling in a form supplied by the Social Insurance Administration. A medical certificate shall accompany the application, and if the child is disabled, a report from the regional office for the disabled shall be included.
An individual aged 16 to 67 may request a disability rating, in consultation with their doctor, when it becomes clear that they will not fully recover from an accident or illness. The assessment is generally performed when the individual has received sickness benefits for one year.
A certificate from a doctor and the individual’s application for a disability pension and related payments, along with further documentation, must be submitted to the Social Insurance Administration.
In some cases, the person applying for the disability rating is called in for an interview or a medical examination, which is performed by a doctor employed by the Social Insurance Administration. In such cases the person in question may be entitled to a refund for travel expenses.
Disability benefits are determined on the basis of a comparison of the results of the disability rating with a special standard.