Research Handbook on European Social Security Law
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Research Handbook on European Social Security Law

Edited by Frans Pennings and Gijsbert Vonk

This Handbook encompasses four dimensions of European social security law: social security as a human right, standard setting in social security, the protection of mobile persons and migrants and the global context of European social security law. It pays attention to both EU law and to various instruments of the Council of Europe. In 25 chapters prominent experts analyse contemporary debates, discuss new challenges and point out further lines of research. Through this exploration, the Handbook provides a source of inspiration for the development of this special field of law.
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Chapter 12: Social security and the disabled

Elisabeth Kohlbacher


At international, European and national level, there are covenants, directives and other legal provisions prohibiting discrimination against disabled people. Within the EU and its Member States, there is no specific social security scheme referring to disabled people. On the contrary, disability policy has for a long time been part of other policy areas such as health insurance, poverty-avoidance schemes, welfare services or invalidity pension schemes and still is a compilation of numerous programmes, strategies and isolated legal regulatory measures. With regard to social inclusion of all people, regardless of their capacities, current aims particularly are to prohibit discrimination against disabled people and to promote their participation in the labour market. Promoting economic self-sufficiency is one of the main measures to prevent disabled people from having to live in poverty and thus to dismantle the poverty trap. Yet, in economically difficult times such as those we are currently experiencing, it is difficult for disabled people to find employment or not to drop out of the labour market. In order to promote employment, policy makers tend to diminish social protection for disadvantaged groups such as disabled people. By taking a look at the relevant international and European legal provisions, some data, the situation in one EU Member State – Austria – and by examining a recent Court of Justice judgment on that topic, the following chapter will show that there is a connection between employment policy, anti-discrimination policy and other EU policy measures concerning disabled people.

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