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Doctoral candidate/doctoral studies

Sickness benefit qualifying income (SGI)

Your sickness benefit qualifying income (SGI) is normally based on your current salary. However, there is a minimum and a maximum level. For your income to generate an SGI, you must normally work for a duration of at least six months. Only income from work forms the basis of your SGI.

SGI protection

You normally have an SGI as long as you work and pay tax. When not working, you may retain your SGI in some cases. This is called SGI protection.

There is both a general post-employment protection for three months, (or less in some cases), and the possibility of further SGI protection under certain circumstances. The most common grounds for the right to protected SGI are:

  • Parental leave.
  • Sick leave, provided that you are/would be entitled to sickness benefit.
  • That you are actively looking for work and registered with the Swedish Employment Service.
  • Studies

SGI protection during the final stages of thesis work

Sometimes a doctoral candidate does not complete their thesis and its defence before their doctoral candidate employment expires. In some cases the higher education institution is able to extend employment but in other cases, doctoral candidates have to choose between interrupting or ending their thesis work or continuing without being employed. If you choose the latter, it is important to bear in mind that this may cause problems with regard to SGI protection.

On 1 July 2018, stronger SGI protection for students was introduced into the Social Insurance Code. The change means that almost everyone on a programme that entitles the student to a study grant or loan retains their SGI protection during their whole period of study. Previously, it was also necessary to receive a student grant or loan (e.g. from CSN, the Swedish Board of Student Finance).

SULF interprets this provision as follows:
This means in practice that doctoral candidates who have been employed but have not completed their doctoral studies before their employment expires may continue their third cycle education with SGI protection, because doctoral studies give the right to study grants or loans. You may not, however, receive a student grant or loan in this situation because this may not be granted if you have been employed as a doctoral candidate. Previously it was possible to retain SGI protection for further education in your own professional field during such a period, but only after special consent had been granted and for a maximum of one year.

Another result is that anyone who was previously employed and then become a doctoral candidate on a scholarship can retain SGI protection during this period for an unlimited time.

It is important to avoid having gaps in your SGI protection. If you choose to continue your studies without being employed, SULF recommends that you register as a jobseeker with the Swedish Employment Service no later than the date you submit your thesis for printing or end/interrupt your studies. You are normally entitled to unemployment benefit payments from that date. As a registered jobseeker, you also have SGI protection.