What is social welfare (socialno varstvo)?
Social welfare covers services and cash benefits for groups and individuals who do not have sufficient means of subsistence. The main aim is to ensure dignity and equal opportunities and to prevent social exclusion. The state provides material and social rights and the individual contributes in the form of taxes and other compulsory duties.
Social welfare rights include financial or other aid provided by the government to the people in need (e.g. unemployment, accidents on the job, sickness, invalidity, pension, family insurance services, maternity).
Regarding access to social welfare, people with granted international protection have equal rights as Slovene citizens. Some welfare benefits are connected to the employment, nationality (Slovene, EU or Non-EU citizen) and the status of resident.
Asylum seekers do not have access to regular social welfare benefits and social security. You can find more information about asylum seekers in chapter International protection.
For obtaining different welfare benefits, different conditions apply. This conditions change frequently, so it is recommended to contact the Centre for Social Work (http://www.mddsz.gov.si/si/delovna_podrocja/sociala/izvajalci_na_podrocju_socialnega_varstva/centri_za_socialno_delo/) or other competent service for more information.
What are social welfare benefits?
Financial social assistance (denarna socialna pomoč)
If you do not have any income or your income is lower than the minimum income defined every year by the government, you can apply for financial social assistance (http://www.mddsz.gov.si/en/areas_of_work/social_affairs/financial_social_assistance/). This is financial aid (help in money) for those who due to circumstances out of their control are unable to provide means of subsistence for themselves and their family members.
For receiving financial social assistance, you have to meets some conditions. You have to be actively seeking solutions to your problem. If you are able to work, you must be registered with the Employment Service of Slovenia, participate in their programmes of active employment policy and actively seek employment. The amount of financial social assistance depends on several factors (your income if any, number of family members, whether you have any property or savings etc.).
You apply for financial social assistance at the Centre for Social Work (Center za socialno delo) (http://www.mddsz.gov.si/si/delovna_podrocja/sociala/izvajalci_na_podrocju_socialnega_varstva/centri_za_socialno_delo/) responsible for the place of your permanent residence. In order to prove your eligibility, you have to show your financial situation by providing bank statements and other documents (statements of assets etc.) for every person living in your household.
As a recipient of the financial social assistance, you automatically benefit from the compulsory health care insurance and you can also apply for the supplementary health care insurance (see chapter Health).
If the person eligible for financial social assistance has no income, they receive the full stated amount; otherwise, they are entitled to the difference between their own income and the stated amount.
Financial social assistance can be granted for different periods – from one month to one year, or even permanently under certain conditions. Exceptional financial social assistance (izredna denarna socialna pomoč) can be granted in exceptional circumstances. If you get this money, you must prove that you used it for the purpose for which it was granted (e. g. paying the bills) to the Centre for Social Work within 45 days of the receipt of the cash assistance.
- Income support (varstveni dodatek) is intended to cover long-term living expenses (accommodation expenses etc.). It is meat for the permanently unemployable or permanently unable to work, for women over 63 or men over 65 whose income does not exceed the threshold.
- Bereavement and funeral payment (pogrebnina) – for a family member of the deceased person arranging a funeral or requiring financial assistance following death of a family member.
- Social assistance (socialne storitve) – there are many types of social services that are available to assist individuals, families and groups in coping with personal distress, as well as to provide care, protection, education and training.
Social services are provided to prevent and/or alleviate social distress and difficulties and include activities and support for self-help. Those services include:
- counselling to individuals
- helping the family
- institutional care (to substitute or complement the functions of home and own family for an adult or child needing attendance)
- organized care for adults with physical or mental handicap (including guidance and employment under special conditions)
- helping workers, institutions and other employers in solving work-related problems
Public institutes of social care directly carry out these services. Everyone has a right to those services, but different conditions apply for different services. You apply at the Centre for Social Work (http://www.mddsz.gov.si/si/delovna_podrocja/sociala/izvajalci_na_podrocju_socialnega_varstva/centri_za_socialno_delo/) that operates in the area of your permanent residence.
What welfare benefits are there for my family?
If you have been granted protection in Slovenia and you have your family here too, your family members also have the right to welfare benefits called family allowances. These allowances are:
- Child benefits (otroški dodatek)
You can receive child benefits monthly from the birth of the child until he/she turns 18. The child must have residence in Slovenia and the income per family member must not exceed 64% of the average net wage in Slovenia. The number of children in the family and their age determines the amount of the benefit.
The Centre of Social Work in the area where the child has permanent residence or spends confirms the right to child benefit the majority of his/her time.
- Parental allowance (starševski dodatek) – a monthly allowance for parents who are not entitled to parental care compensation (income that employed parents receive during the parental leave); also some other conditions apply
- Childbirth allowance (pomoč ob rojstvu otroka) – one time financial help for the purchase of clothing and other necessities at the birth of a child.
- Large family allowance (dodatek za veliko družino) – an annual payment for families with three or more children
- Child care allowance (dodatek za nego otroka) – a monthly payment for a child requiring special care
- Partial payment for loss of earnings (delno plačilo za izgubljeni dohodek) – a monthly payment for parents or guardians/foster parents caring for a child with a serious mental developmental disorder or serious physical impairment.
For obtaining different child allowances, different conditions apply. This conditions change, so it is recommended to contact the Centre for Social Work (http://www.mddsz.gov.si/si/delovna_podrocja/sociala/izvajalci_na_podrocju_socialnega_varstva/centri_za_socialno_delo/) for more information.
What welfare benefits are there for people with disabilities?
There are different forms of disability. Some people are physically disabled. For example, they are blind, deaf or unable to walk and need a wheelchair. Other people are mentally disabled. Disabilities can be congenital or they may be the result of an accident or a disease.
People with disabilities have several support mechanisms at their disposal so they can participate in the society equally, for example, they are more protected against being dismissed from their job and can receive occupational subsidies. For more information, contact associations for persons with disabilities. If you need the help of such institutions, ask your integration counsellor for more information on different organizations.
Persons classed as disabled are entitled to different rights to disability insurance. The ZPIZ disability commission assesses disability. Depending on how much work-capacity they have, disabled persons are classified in three categories, which have different rights:
- disability pension (invalidska pokojnina);
- vocational rehabilitation (poklicna rehabilitacija);
- disability allowance (nadomestilo za invalidnost);
- partial benefit (delno nadomestilo) and;
- disability benefit for physical impairment (invalidnina za telesno okvaro).
How is social insurance system in Slovenia organized?
Social insurance in Slovenia is a legal obligation – this means you are obligated to have insurance. It is primarily financed by employers’ and employees’ contributions. Social security contributions in Slovenia are paid as taxes by the employer and also by employees via their monthly salary. These contributions are:
- contribution for pension and disability insurance
- contribution for compulsory health insurance
- parental care contribution
- employment contribution
It is your employers’ obligation to register you for social insurance. As a self-employed worker, you have to register yourself.
What health rights do I have?
If you are an asylum seeker, you only have the right to emergency medical treatment – for more information, see chapter Health.
If you have been granted international protection, you have the right to health insurance. There are two types of insurance: compulsory and supplementary. See the chapter Health on how to obtain both types of insurance.
The basic (compulsory) health care insurance is managed by the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia (Zavod za zdravstveno zavarovanje (http://www.zzzs.si/). When you are insured, you get a health insurance card.
For further information about health care, see chapter Health.
What does the pension insurance cover?
In Slovenia, the statutory pension insurance scheme comprises the following:
- Old age pensions (starostna pokojnina) – Every person reaching a certain age (currently set at 60 years for women and 65 years for men) and having worked for the required period (while paying pension contributions) is entitled to an old age pension;
- Widows pensions’ and survivors’ pensions – benefits for family members upon death of the insured person;
- Benefits on grounds of reduced capacity for work (invalidity pensions);
- early retirement pensions (predčasna pokojnina);
- partial pensions (delna pokojnina); persons entitled to a pension also have the right to a partial pension if they choose to remain employed at least half-time.
For all of pensions, you have to fulfil certain conditions/requirements. The amount of pension benefits depends on the contributory income, the number of insurance months accrued and the age of the retired person. Pensions are managed by ZPIZ (Zavod za pokojninsko in invalidsko zavarovanje) – Pension and Disability Insurance Institute of the Republic of Slovenia (https://www.zpiz.si/cms/?ids=zpizen).
Am I eligible for unemployment benefits? (denarno nadomestilo za brezposelnost).
You can receive unemployment benefits if you are unemployed and you were compulsorily insured for unemployment prior to becoming unemployed. In addition, your employment must have been terminated against your will or through no fault of your own. If you want to apply for unemployment benefits, you also have to meet some other conditions.
The Slovene public employment service is ZRSZ (Zavod Republike Slovenije za zaposlovanje)
Employment Service of Slovenia (http://english.ess.gov.si/).
Sources, further information & links
The information booklet “Your social security rights in Slovenia” published by the European Commission gives more detailed information about different welfare benefits including information about how and where to apply and which documents are needed for application.
The current system of Slovene social services has adapted very little to the influx of immigrants and their families. As the procedures to access these services can be complicated and confusing for foreigners, you can contact some institutions for help:
- Slovene Philanthropy: https://www.filantropija.org/en
- Društvo Odnos: http://odnos.si/
- Društvo Up Jesenice: http://www.up-jesenice.org/en
Websites that give more information about social benefits and social security, which also served as sources for the information above:
- Social security and health care: http://www.vlada.si/en/about_slovenia/society/social_security_and_health_care/
- Social security act: http://www.mddsz.gov.si/fileadmin/mddsz.gov.si/pageuploads/dokumenti__pdf/zsv_upb2_en.pdf
- Your social security rights in Slovenia: file:///C:/Users/Prostovoljci/Downloads/missoc-ssg-SI-2017-en%20(1).pdf
How can I obtain welfare benefits as an asylum seeker?
Rights of asylum seekers are defined in the International protection act (http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/47f1fdfc2.pdf).
If you are an asylum seeker in Slovenia, you have the right to:
- live (reside) in Slovenia
- follow the procedures in a language you understand
- obtain information
- free legal aid in procedures before the Administrative and the Supreme Court until their decision becomes final;
- basic care in case of accommodation in the asylum centre (accommodation, food, clothing and footwear, hygienic accessories – for more information, see chapter Housing.
- financial assistance in case of accommodation at a private address – for more information, see chapter Housing.
- emergency medical treatment – for more information, see chapter Health.
- education – for more information, see chapter Education.
- access to the labour market – for more information, see chapter Employment (link).
- humanitarian aid – for more information, see chapter If you feel lost in your country (link).
- pocket money (18 euros/month).
Vulnerable persons with special needs have the right to special treatment – for more information, see chapter Information for different groups.
What can I do if I have no income or if my income is too low to live on?
If you have no income or low income below the minimum standard, apply for financial social assistance. For more info, see section above.
What can I do as an unregistered person (person without status) in case of an emergency?
If you are staying in Slovenia without authorization, you do not have any access to social security or welfare benefits. However, emergency medical treatment cannot be refused.
Persons without health insurance can also receive medical services in a project called Ambulanta s posvetovalnico za osebe brez zdravstvenega zavarovanja (http://www.ordinacija.net/members/www-pzs.php?lang=slo&mg_pzs_id=74) with doctors providing treatment on a voluntary basis.
What are the basic requirements to access the welfare benefits and social security?
You need to have been at least granted protection in Slovenia. If you are still waiting for decision about your status (you are an asylum seeker), your rights are different (see section above).