The €6.5bn pension fund for disabled workers in the Netherlands (PWRI) has confirmed it is exploring a possible merger with three undisclosed pension funds to “secure certainty” for its 210,000 participants.

PWRI has been closed to new entrants since 1 January, when new legislation came into force aiming to increase the participation of workers with disabilities.

Kees Bethlehem, the scheme’s chairman, declined to provide details about the merger candidates and stressed that continuing as an independent pension fund was also an option.

However, Frans Prins, director at PWRI, said last year that, if the pension fund opted for independence, contributions would have to increase to 40% of the pensionable salary by 2050.

At the time, he underlined the importance of PWRI as an independent scheme, in order to serve its specific target group.

He pointed out that life expectancy for the pension fund’s participants was four years less than the national average and said they therefore required a tailor-made approach.