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Benefits package in Helsinki


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In order to be eligible for most social benefits you are required to be a permanent resident in Finland , with the following exceptions. For certain pensions or the disability allowance, you must have lived in Finland for a certain period of time. The length of residence in Finland also affects the amount of your pension. To qualify for parenthood allowance, you must have lived in Finland for 180 days before the date on which your child is due to be born. Residence in other EU/EEA countries, Switzerland or Israel counts towards this limit.

Residence in Finland and eligibility for social security benefits are defined by the Act concerning Residence-Based Social Security (Laki asumiseen perustuvan sosiaaliturvalainsäädännön soveltamisesta). This Act is applied when determining whether applicants satisfy the residence requirements in the Acts of Parliament listed below. The Acts are divided into two groups. The first group includes benefits which may in certain situations be payable based on employment even if the recipient is not living in Finland permanently. The benefits in the second group are available to permanent residents of Finland only.

Group I

  • National Pension Insurance Act
  • Survivors' Pensions Act
  • Child Benefits Act
  • Maternity Grants Act
  • Housing Allowances Act

Group II

  • Act on Housing Allowance for Pensioners
  • Child Disability Allowances Act
  • Disability Allowances Act
  • Act on Front-Veterans' Supplements
  • Act on Special Assistance for Immigrants

The provisions are largely equivalent with the Act concerning Residence-Based Social Security. Benefits under the following Acts are more likely to be paid on the basis of employment (as opposed to permanent residence) in Finland than are the benefits provided under the Act concerning Residence-Based Social Security.

 The Acts are:

  • Health Insurance Act
  • Unemployment Allowances Act
  • Act Concerning Rehabilitation Services to be Provided by the Social Insurance Institution
  • Rehabilitation Allowances Act

The right to the following benefits provided by KELA is conditional on residence in Finland according to the Municipality of Residence Act which is worded nearly identically to the Act concerning Residence-Based Social Security:

  • child home care and private day care allowances (actual residence in Finland also required; exceptions apply to those residing in the EU/EEA);
  • financial aid for students (also available for studies abroad);
  • School transportation subsidy.

However, the provisions listed above are not applied if they are in conflict with international agreements binding on Finland . Such agreements include the EEA Agreement and its annex the Council Regulation No. 1408/71, which applies to people moving within the EU/EEA countries (and since 2002, Switzerland), and the various social security agreements concluded by Finland with several old and new EU/EEA member states as well as Canada, Israel, Quebec, Switzerland and the United States. Reciprocal agreements on health care have been signed with Australia and Hungary. 

Conscript's allowance

Conscript's allowance is payable to men performing their conscript or non-military service and to women performing voluntary armed service, as well as to their dependants. It can be paid for the following family members:

  • married spouse
  • unmarried partner with whom the conscript has a child under 18
  • a natural or adopted child of the conscript
  • a child of the conscript's married spouse or
  • a child placed in permanent custody with the conscript.  

The conscript's allowance paid to dependants can consist of a basic allowance, a housing allowance and a special allowance. In their own name, conscripts can get a housing allowance and an interest subsidy for student loans. Entitlement to the allowances depends on the net income and savings of the conscript and the eligible family members, except in the case of the interest subsidy, where only the conscript's own income and savings are considered. Interest due on student loans is paid entirely out of government funds. The interest subsidy is available for government guaranteed student loans in which interest is not being capitalized.

Basic allowance

The basic allowance is intended to cover food, personal hygiene and other daily expenses. It is equal to the full national pension additional amount payable to a single pensioner. Recipients living outside Finland get the basic allowance at the rate it would be paid in a municipality belonging to cost-of-living class II. The amount of the basic allowance also depends on the number of eligible family members: the first recipient gets the full allowance, the second 50% of the full allowance, and the third and each following recipient 30% of the full allowance.

Housing allowance

The housing allowance covers part of the housing costs of the conscript or his/her family member. The costs taken into account include rent, monthly maintenance charge, water, annual interest on housing loans and repayments of principal, electricity, gas and, in the case of single-family detached houses, the costs of regular upkeep.

Special allowance

The special allowance can be awarded to cover reasonable and necessary health care costs, child care costs - for example a pram - and interest on dependants' student loans.

Payment of the allowance

Conscript's allowance can be claimed from the local KELA office by either the conscripts themselves or their family members (or their legal guardians). The allowance is paid from the beginning of the month of application, though not before the day on which service begins, up to the end of the month of discharge from service. The conscript's allowance is free from tax. KELA pays the allowance on the first banking day of each month into the claimant's account at any Finnish financial institute.

Rehabilitation

KELA is required to assess a client's need of rehabilitation at the latest when he or she has received sickness allowance for 60 days. This includes days in which the client was incapable of work but did not receive sickness allowance due to lack of sufficient previous earnings. KELA's local offices determine on a case-by-case basis whether a rehabilitation assessment is necessary. Other organizations responsible for providing rehabilitation services include the social services, the health, labor and education authorities, and the insurance and employment pension institutions.
If a client needs rehabilitation which either is not available through KELA or which some other authority is more qualified to provide, KELA is required to refer the client to such services.Decisions on a claim for disability pension must be preceded by verification that the client's rehabilitation prospects have been evaluated. If the pension claim is turned down, KELA is under certain circumstances required to refer the client to rehabilitation or other suitable services.

Impaired functional ability / disability as basis of rehabilitation:

One of the conditions for receiving rehabilitation benefits is the presence of a handicap caused by an illness or injury which significantly impairs the person's capacity to work and to function and which could respond to rehabilitation. This is always an individual assessment.

Help for families with children

KELA provides the following benefits for parents

  • Maternity Grant
  • Maternity, Paternity and Parental Allowances and the Special Maternity Allowance
  • Child Benefit (Family Allowance)
  • Benefits in connection with the illness of a child
  • Adoption Grant

Some of the changes to family benefits introduced at the beginning of 2007 include:

  • Maternity allowances were increased for the first 56 days of payment.
  • Parental allowances for fathers and mothers and paternity allowances for the "father's month" were increased for the first 30 days of payment.
  • Greater flexibility was allowed in timing the beginning of the "father's month".
  • Eligibility for the parental allowance for adoptive parents was lengthened to 200 days.
  • Persons living in a registered partnership can share the eligibility for parental allowance.
  • Decisions concerning family benefits can be appealed to the Social Security Appeal Board.

These changes apply to families who begin to receive parental benefits (maternity, paternity or parental allowance, or special maternity allowance) in 2007. They do not apply to families that began to receive parental benefits in 2006 (even if their child was born in 2007). The contents of the maternity pack change yearly. Distribution of the new version begins as soon as the old version is no longer in stock.


Update 20/05/2008

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