Work ability consists of compatibility and the balance between a person’s physical and mental resources and the work. Work ability is based on a person’s physical and mental functioning capacity. In addition, attitudes to work and professional competence have an impact on work ability. In other words, a person’s work ability is the sum of several components.

Many changes occur in work ability during a person’s lifetime. For example, physical strength tends to diminish with age. However, this does not necessarily impair work ability at all, because changes in the other components of work ability, such as the development of one’s own skills and professional competence, simultaneously enhance work ability. Work ability is also strengthened by meaningful and suitably challenging work. In contrast, if the work does not match one’s own expectations and feels forced, work ability may decline even in the absence of changes in physical performance.

Assessing work ability is complicated because merely assessing an individual’s physical and mental functioning capacity is not enough. In addition, the compatibility between the individual and the work must be assessed. Consideration must also be given to what the person’s work ability would be in another type of job.

The earnings-related pension also includes insurance in the event of disability. Granting a disability pension, however, is the last option. Not only the applicant’s work ability but also the needs for rehabilitation and training are assessed before a disability pension is granted. This is done because work ability always means compatibility and balance between the employee’s own resources and the work. A person may therefore be able to work in one occupation but not in another one.