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28.03.2024 / What is behind the decreased number of people receiving pensions and allowances due to disability?

The 62-year-old resident of Lankaran, Mohubbat Huseynov, who suffered from eye diseases, was given the status of second-degree disability in 2014 and was given a disability pension. In 2015 and 2016, he was re-examined for visual impairment, and his disability was confirmed again. On November 15, 2021, Mohubbat Huseynov could not withdraw his pension from the ATM for the next month. He was informed by the Lankaran district branch of the State Social Protection Fund that his pension was suspended from October 21, 2021, as he did not pass a re-examination due to disability.[1]

On the same day, a disabled citizen is examined at the Central Hospital of Lankaran District and sent to the National Ophthalmology Center named after Zarifa Aliyeva for confirmation of disability. Based on this referral, she applied to the Zarifa Aliyeva Center in the same month, but her turn was scheduled for February 2 of the following year. On February 2, 2022, Mohubbat Huseynov is examined at the center, his diagnosis is reconfirmed and he is informed that his documents will be sent to Lankaran Central Hospital of District within ten days. However, since the results of the examination were not received by the Lankaran Medical Research Center on February 16, 2022, on February 17, 2022, she obtained the medical opinion about her examination from the Zarifa Aliyeva Center and handed it over to the Lankaran Medical Research Center. There, they informed him that his documents would be integrated into the system.

On March 9, 2022, due to Central Hospital District again and it turns out that his documents have not yet been sent to the Medical Social Expert Commission (MSEC). After his displeasure, the documents were finally integrated into the system and sent to MSEC, and he was notified about this on March 14, 2022.

On April 12, 2022, there was a rejection response to the problem that "the referral formalized by the state health institution is not completely filled out, there is a discrepancy between the medical opinion of the Zarifa Aliyeva Center and the expert opinion of MSEC (form No. 88)."

On April 20, 2022, Lankaran MRX again submitted a shipment to MSEC, and the new documents drawn up are the same as those dated March 9, 2022. After that, on May 1, 2022, MSEC finally confirmed Mohubbat Huseynov's disability, and pension payments to him were continued from that date.

After that, the pensioner made an official appeal to the State Social Protection Fund (SSPF) to pay him a pension for the period from October 21, 2021, to May 1, 2022, as the reconfirmation of his disability was extended as a result of the activities of state institutions that were independent of him. SSPF did not respond to this request. On August 8, 2022, the pensioner filed a lawsuit against SSPF in the Baku Administrative Court for the payment of his 6-month and 10-day pension. The court hearing on the case was scheduled for October 27, 2022. However, the complainant died on October 7 without seeing this day.

The number of people receiving disability pensions and allowances has decreased

According to the State Statistics Committee's information, the number of people receiving pensions and allowances due to disability has been decreasing year by year in Azerbaijan over the past five years. In 2019-2023, the number of disability pension recipients decreased by 32.5%, and the number of disability benefit recipients decreased by 10.6%. The decreasing trend was more evident in 2021-2022.

The Chairperson of the Board of the State Medical-Social Expertise and Rehabilitation Agency, Javid Abdul-Gadirov, said at a press conference on May 5, 2021, that more than 7,000 fake disability designations were detected and canceled in recent years. As a result, 30 million manats per year, over the long term, illegal spending of more than 735 million manats of budget funds was prevented.[2]

Official statistics show that the number of disability pensioners decreased by 7.1% in 2021 and by 16.3% in 2022. In total, in 2019, 383,721 people received disability pensions, while in 2023, this figure dropped to 258,656 people, which means a 32.6% decrease. During that period, the number of people receiving disability benefits decreased by 10.6%. This reduction was especially evident in the number of children under 18 who received benefits due to limited health opportunities. The number of benefit recipients in this category was 63,000 in 2019 but decreased to 47,000 last year.

At the mentioned press conference, Javid Abdul-Gadirov also stated that by the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers dated December 30, 2015, the temporary disability cases in effect across the country were automatically extended for five years without any inspection or examination. That decision covered 190,000 people. According to him, at that time, in addition to people with actual disabilities, the disability period of thousands of people who had already recovered or been rehabilitated, as well as those who obtained disability by false means, was extended. The state official explained the work of re-evaluating the disability of persons whose disability periods ended at that time and emphasized that the most important principle in this field is that "disability degrees are given to those who are truly disabled, and false disabilities are detected and canceled."

However, it is noteworthy that the disability reassessment measures coincided with the period after the 44-day second Karabakh war. According to the information of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, 2841 people were martyred, 64 people were missing[3], and 11,110 people were injured in the Patriotic War.[4] In fact, these figures began to appear in the categories of social benefit recipients in 2021. For example, in 2021, the number of people over 18 years old who received disability benefits decreased by 32,200, and in 2022, it increased again by 12,500 people. However, among those whose status was revoked, there were also a large number of disabled people from the first Karabakh war.

According to lawyer Khalid Baghirov, with the 2021-2022 disability reconfirmation campaign, the government actually aimed to reduce the social burden that increased after the COVID-19 pandemic and the Patriotic War. The example of Mohubbat Huseynov and other similar cases show that during that period, the SSPF massively suspended pensions and allowances for the disabled, and the State Medical-Social Expertise and Rehabilitation Agency artificially prolonged the process of confirming the disability of people with disabilities and created bureaucratic obstacles. This decision was influenced by the economic problems of that period.

Economic downturn and declining oil revenues

According to the 2020 results, the Gross Domestic Product of Azerbaijan decreased by 4.7%. The decrease was evident in the oil sector (-7%).[5] Azerbaijan's oil production decreased by 8 percent during the year, and the price of crude oil in the world market fell sharply due to the indirect effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2020 Azerbaijan Payment Balance, it is noted that the actual price of crude oil was 41 US dollars, which means a 36% decrease compared to 2019.[6]

The annual report on the implementation of the 2020 state budget states that 1334.1 million manats were spent from the state budget to reduce the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the country's economy.[7] This also includes 447.9 million manats paid to 600,000 people registered as unemployed during the quarantine period.

Targeted social assistance recipients have also decreased

Official data shows that in 2021, the number of recipients of targeted state social assistance (TSA) has reduced by 42%. TSY is a financial aid provided by the state to low-income families.

The decrease was also reflected in the funds allocated for this purpose from the state budget. According to calculations, 12.5 million manats were spent from the budget for this purpose in 2021, which is 32.6% less. Although this number increased again in the following years, in 2023, 64,000 families were given TSY, which is 11.4% less than in 2019.

[1] The lawsuit dated August 8, 2022, submitted by Mohubbat Huseynov to the Baku Administrative Court against SSPF




[5] State Statistics Committee -


[7] Ministry of Finance -