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Who can get basic social assistance

Basic social assistance can be provided to individuals or families living or residing permanently in Finland whose income and assets do not cover their essential daily needs.

Basic social assistance is intended for persons who are unable to make a living from work or self-employment, by receiving social security benefits, or by relying on their other income or assets. It is also intended for those who are entitled to maintenance payments but who are not supported by the person liable for maintenance. If the person liable for maintenance has neglected the maintenance of the recipient of assistance on purpose, the assistance or part of it can be recovered from the person liable for maintenance.

The maintenance provided by the person liable for maintenance is a primary source of income in relation to social assistance. Married spouses and partners in a registered partnership are liable to provide maintenance to each other. The liability to provide maintenance ends when the divorce enters into force or the registered partnership is dissolved. Parents are liable to provide maintenance to their child until the child reaches the age of 18 years. 

Parliament has approved the amendment concerning the recognition of housing costs under the social assistance scheme

The legislative amendment will not bring about any major changes to the current practices. Mostly, it will make the criteria for recognising housing costs clearer by codifying them in an act and a decree. However, the amendment will in some respects tighten the criteria for recognising housing costs that exceed the maximum limit. The legislative amendment will enter into force on 1 April 2024.

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How other benefits affect basic social assistance

Basic social assistance is a last-resort form of financial aid which is affected by all of the income and assets available to you. Other social security benefits are counted as income.

The fact that social assistance is a last resort means that you must attempt, to the best of your ability, to secure a livelihood for your family and yourself, and first claim any other benefits to which you may be entitled. Among the benefits provided by Kela, this includes unemployment benefits, housing benefits, pensions, financial aid for students, daily allowances for parents, sickness allowance, child care allowances, and child maintenance allowances.

However, you can apply for basic social assistance if you have not received a decision on a claim for a benefit that takes precedence over social assistance, or if you have not yet applied for such benefits. Basic social assistance can also take the form of an advance against an anticipated benefit, in which case it is deducted from the other benefit.

All family income, assets and expenses are taken into account

When determining the amount of basic social assistance, the available income and assets as well as expenses of all family members are taken into account.

'Family' means parents living in the same household, their minor children or adopted children, and married spouses, and also persons living in circumstances similar to marriage in a common household.

Persons sharing an apartment are not necessarily a family

Persons sharing an apartment may form a communal household but not necessarily a family. If they do not constitute a family they must apply for assistance separately. For example, adult siblings or friends who share an apartment each constitute a separate family and should apply for basic social assistance separately even if they form a communal household. Their income, assets and expenses are considered separately.

For persons living in a communal household, the basic amount of social assistance is equal to 85% of the basic amount for persons living alone. This is because in a communal household, an individual household member generally has lower living expenses than someone living alone. More information about the rates of the basic amount

Adult children

Adult children are not considered to be part of their parents' family even if they live in the same apartment. They must apply for basic social assistance separately.

Minor children

Minor children can apply for basic social assistance separately if they live away from their parents. Kela checks the income and assets of their parents and considers the ability of the parents to provide maintenance for their children.

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