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Life with Spinal Cord Injury

  1. Franzlife VIP
  2. Life with Spinal Cord Injury
  3. Tuesday, 07 November 2023

Hello dear friends of the Community, today we are talking about the rights that a disabled person enjoys in Switzerland.

It can happen quickly from one second to the next or even from one day to the next, whether due to an accident or an illness, life can change rapidly.

You are often alone, but even if you are not, you can quickly become overwhelmed over time. So here are a few helpful tips and links.

First of all: our healthcare system and healthcare provision is complex, so complex that sometimes even the institutions themselves don't know exactly how, where and what to do. I would like to provide a few rays of light in this dark chapter.

Accident insurance (e.g. Suva): If a disability occurs as a result of an accident, accident insurance is responsible. Sadly, I have to say that anyone who is recognised as accident-related is much better off in almost every respect compared to illness-related / DI! From a lifelong disability pension of 70% of your last income to the provision of medical aids. But beware: not all accidents are the same. If someone has an accident due to a fall or similar and ends up in a wheelchair, but this accident was caused by an illness (such as a stroke, high blood pressure or fainting), he or she will not receive anything from the accident insurance, but the DI will be responsible.

Disability insurance (DI): If you end up in a wheelchair due to an illness, whether from one second to the next or due to along-term illness, the DI authority is responsible. Unfortunately, there is a huge difference in the financial aspect and the provision of aids compared to accident insurance.

A concrete example: Let's assume that Mrs X bursts an aorta, has an operation and remains paraplegic. After hospital, she is usually transferred to a rehabilitation centre where she learns everything anew. In this case, the rehabilitation centre already helps a lot with the applications for a DI pension. From the moment an application for a DI pension is submitted to the DI, it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years before a definitive decision is made on the degree of disability. Although the case is clear and medically certified, those affected usually have to undergo an additional examination by the DI.

Once everything has been completed, the decision is issued with a ruling. (Please note that you always have 30 days to appeal against any decision made by the DI, regardless of the decision). How much pension you receive always depends on what you did for a living, how much you earned and how old you are - but one thing is certain, it can range from CHF 400 to a maximum of CHF 2000 (a full pension of 100 % is already available from 70 % degree of disability).

Of course, the question immediately arises: But how are you supposed to live on such a small pension? Then there are the supplementary benefits from the canton, which are integrated into our constitution and are a right for everyone living in Switzerland. But beware: supplementary benefits are only granted if you are not wealthy.

You can find out more about entitlement to supplementary benefits at the links and

Either way, in this jungle of rights and obligations it is easy to become overwhelmed. 
And don't worry, you are never alone, there are organisations that provide free support with lawyers in this area (although free means you should still become a member, but membership usually costs from CHF 50 to CHF 65 per year, and in view of what they do, every centime is more than deserved).

In general, people with a disability have the following organisations to help them:

These two organisations offer competent and complete support on what rights you have or do not have, including the provision of aids etc.

Anyone who has suffered a spinal cord injury in particular, whether accident or illness, is well looked after by the Swiss Paraplegics Association SPV:

Now to the various rights relating to the provision of assistive devices and entitlement to an assistant:

When it comes to the provision of assistive devices, from wheelchairs to mobility aids and home or vehicle modifications, accident insurance is directly responsible in the case of accident-related spinal cord injury (see description above) and you benefit from comprehensive care, e.g. two wheelchairs instead of one, etc. etc. (as mentioned, accident insurance works completely differently and much better than DI).

With DI, you are entitled to care and aids that are "simple and appropriate".

If someone is no longer working or is unable to work, they are entitled to a wheelchair plus an auxiliary drive or an electric wheelchair. If someone is working (from 50%), they are automatically entitled to a second wheelchair fitting. Any assistive device must of course first be purchased from an assistive device shop (I would advise you to enquire about the assistive device shop in advance, as there are unfortunately many unprofessional shops).

As soon as you have found the aid you want, the shop will make you an offer, which you will usually have to sign. The application is then sent to the DI, which in turn must, according to federal law, commission the SAHB Switzerland specialist centre to carry out an assessment. The SAHB checks whether the aid is appropriate. As the SAHB is the official DI depot centre, it also checks its stock to see whether it has a comparable aid that has exactly the same dimensions as you need, and if so, you automatically receive the aid from the SAHB depot centre, whether you want it or not. However, if the dimensions are not correct or the fitting is not suitable, or if the SAHB does not consider the aid to be appropriate, then the SAHB will give feedback to the DI, and the DI will then issue a decision or not... but again be careful, because sometimes the SAHB or the DI simply give you a no, never just take it lying down, but contact a help centre immediately (see the organisations above). Often, after a rejection by the DI and an appeal by the insured person, a decision is issued after all.

To summarise, you have the following requirements:

  • Home remodelling (adaptation such as bathroom or accessibility of rooms)
  • Conversion of your own vehicle (to ensure your own mobility)
  • Provision of aids such as a wheelchair and electric drive or an electric wheelchair
  • Assistance contribution and helplessness allowance (see below)

These points are an unconditional entitlement, i.e. even if you are able to work and do not receive a DI pension, the degree of helplessness allowance and how many hours you are entitled to assistance is always determined according to the degree of disability.

Either way, there are countless laws and rights, so in the end it is always better to have a life counsellor or social worker. You should never do everything on your own or just accept it. Always ask for help or advice, and of course I can also offer you advice or my help free of charge. Never forget, it costs nothing to ask, and there are never stupid questions, only stupid answers 😉.

Here are some helpful links:

I hope I have been able to give you a few helpful tips and, as always, remain open to dialogue or questions.



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