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Changes to Kela benefits in 2021
Starting 1 January 2021, Kela will have administrative responsibility for providing health services to higher education students, including the collection of a healthcare fee. The national Incomes Register will expand to cover also social security benefits and pensions. Benefits tied to the national pensions index will be increased by 0.4%
The following is a summary of the key changes in 2021 which affect the social benefits provided by Kela. Information about the changes and the new euro amounts of benefits will be made available at www.kela.fi on 1 January 2021.
Starting from the beginning of 2021, wage data as well as data on paid benefits and pensions must be reported to the national Incomes Register. Individuals who receive income can check the Incomes Register’s e-service for real-time information on their salary, pension and benefit income.
Beginning 1 January 2021, Kela will report to the Incomes Register all taxable benefits as well as tax-exempt benefits which affect the basic social assistance and compensations for expenses paid in connection with unemployment benefits. Basic social assistance and disability allowance payments will still remain outside the register.
Kela will send the benefits data to the Incomes Register within five days of the date of payment. The reports submitted to the Incomes Register replace the annual statements regarding benefits that were previously submitted to the Tax Administration.
Students to pay a healthcare fee to Kela
Starting 1 January 2021, Kela will have administrative responsibility for providing health services to higher education students, including the collection of a healthcare fee. The Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) will starting from next year provide services not only to students of traditional universities but also to students of universities of applied sciences.
The student healthcare fee must be paid by all students who are completing a degree at a Finnish institution of higher education and have registered as attending for the term in question.
Higher education students must pay the fee to Kela starting with the spring term of 2021. In 2021, the fee will be EUR 35.80 per term. Students are not billed for the fee but are expected to pay it unprompted via Kela’s e-service.
Changes to student financial aid due to the coronavirus epidemic
The target time to qualify for a student loan compensation or student loan tax deduction can be extended by 0.5 academic years for students who completed a degree in higher education during the autumn term of 2020 (1 August 2020 - 31 December 2020) and whose graduation was delayed because of the coronavirus epidemic.
Students who did not graduate within the target time will in March-April 2021 receive a decision proposal from Kela informing them that they have not been granted a student loan compensation or tax deduction. They should then submit a request to Kela to have their case reviewed and provide information about the studies required for the degree that they did not complete in the spring term of 2020 (1 January - 31 July 2020) and explain how the coronavirus epidemic affected these studies.
Students who postpone the beginning of their studies in a higher education institution because of the epidemic may also qualify for an extension of the target graduation time. The above applies to students whose first admission to a degree programme is for a programme scheduled to begin in autumn term 2020 or in spring term 2021, but the coronavirus epidemic has caused them to postpone the start of their studies.
The qualifying requirements for the school transport subsidy will change temporarily because distance learning has become more common during the coronavirus epidemic. Students may qualify for school transport subsidy if they make at least eight return trips to and from school in one calendar month. This requires also that the students now make fewer trips to and from school because their school has made special arrangements to provide instruction during the coronavirus epidemic. The described changes will remain in effect for the spring term, i.e. 1 January 2021 to 31 July 2021.
The meal subsidy for higher education students will increase to EUR 2.30 per meal starting 1 January 2021. In practice this means that Kela’s share of the cost of the meal will increase, while the student’s out-of-pocket share will decrease.
The minimum amount of the maternity, paternity and parental allowances and of the special care allowance will go up. The new amount will be EUR 29.05 per day (EUR 28.94 per day in 2020).
The euro amounts of child care allowances tied to the national pensions index will go up 0.4%.
Rates of the child maintenance allowance increased
The full amount of the child maintenance allowance will be increased to EUR 167.35 per month (from EUR 167.01 per month in 2020).
The income limits to qualify for an exemption on child support debt will be revised. Persons with maintenance liabilities qualify for the exemption if their monthly income does not exceed EUR 1,130.86. The income limit goes up by EUR 282.71 per month for each additional child. However, the income limit is not increased for children who have been granted child maintenance allowance. The 2020 amounts were EUR 1,128.57 per month and EUR 282.14 per month.
Kela does not provide child maintenance allowance if a child is able to support him- or herself. In 2021, the limits for children’s earnings and income from capital will be increased to EUR 791.60 per month for children living at home, and to EUR 1,130.86 per month for children who are living independently. The corresponding limits in 2020 were EUR 790.00 per month and EUR 1,128.57 per month.
The basic unemployment allowance and the labour market subsidy will increase to EUR 33.78 per day (from EUR 33.66 in 2020).
The supplementary amount and the child increases will be raised as well. The supplementary amount will be EUR 4.80 per day.
The child increases will be as follows:
- EUR 5.30 per day for one child
- EUR 7.78 per day for two children in total
- EUR 10.03 per day for three or more children in total
Some temporary exceptions to unemployment benefit rules extended to 31 March 2021
During the coronavirus epidemic, there have been several temporary legislative changes affecting unemployment benefits. Some of these exceptions have been extended to 31 March 2021. For example, the exempt amount applicable to unemployment benefits has been raised to EUR 500 (from EUR 300). The exempt amount is the amount of money that an unemployed jobseeker may earn without a reduction in unemployment benefit.
Also, the eligibility requirements for the commuting and relocation allowance have been relaxed so that until 31 March 2021, the allowance is available if the two-way trip to and from one's place of full-time employment takes more than two hours (rather than three hours) per day.
Finally, self-employed persons can get labour market subsidy payments until 31 March 2021 if their business has suffered due to the epidemic. The eligibility is not conditional on a specific form of incorporation and does not require the termination of all self-employment activity.
General housing allowance: Maximum housing costs increased slightly
The maximum housing costs allowed under the general housing allowance scheme will be adjusted in line with the cost-of-living index. This means that the maximum housing costs will be increased slightly at the beginning of 2021. The new maximum limits will apply to all reviews and awards of housing allowance made on or after 1 January 2021.
The amount of water charges recognised as housing costs will also rise slightly. In 2021, up to EUR 19 per month per person in separately paid water charges can be recognised as housing costs.
Due to an adjustment of the national pensions index, the basic deductible applicable to housing allowance recipients is reduced somewhat. This means that the income limit to qualify for a full housing allowance will go up slightly. In 2021, the full rate of allowance is available on an income of EUR 606 plus EUR 100 for each adult and EUR 224 for each child in the household.
Increase in the basic amount of social assistance
The basic amount of social assistance will increase slightly in 2021. It will be EUR 504.06 per month for persons living alone, up from EUR 502.21 per month in 2020.
The amount of water charges recognised under the social assistance scheme will increase slightly. Up to EUR 22.80 per person will be recognised in 2021 (up from EUR 21.60 per person in 2020).
The maximum limit on yearly out-of-pocket medicine costs will go up slightly. The new limit will be EUR 579.78 per calendar year (up from EUR 577.66 in 2020). Once the limit is reached, customers only pay a EUR 2.50 copayment for each reimbursable medicine for the rest of the year.
The basic rate of reimbursement (40% of the sale or reference price), the lower special rate of reimbursement (65% of the sale or reference price) and the higher special rate of reimbursement (100% of the sale or reference price) will remain the same. Also the initial deductible (EUR 50) which customers must pay out of pocket to qualify for reimbursements will remain unchanged.
Higher reimbursement for persons tested for coronavirus by a private-sector healthcare provider
Starting 1 January 2021, persons visiting a private-sector healthcare provider in order to undergo a PCR test will get a reimbursement of EUR 100 (up from the current rate of EUR 56 in effect since 1 April 2020).
The PCR test is a nucleic acid detection technique based on the analysis of nasopharyngeal swabs, which is considered the most accurate existing method for detecting COVID-19.
Minimum amounts of sickness and rehabilitation allowances to increase slightly
The minimum amounts of sickness and rehabilitation allowances will increase. They will be EUR 29.05 per day (EUR 28.94 in 2020).
The rehabilitation allowance for young persons and the allowance payable during vocational rehabilitation will go up to EUR 33.51 per day (from EUR 33.39 in 2020).
Changes to the reimbursement of travel costs when visiting a student healthcare or voucher-based medical care provider
Starting 1 January 2021, students attending a traditional university or a university of applied sciences will become eligible for reimbursements for travel costs arising from a visit to the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) to get basic medical care. Costs are reimbursed up to the amount that a visit to the nearest FSHS location offering the treatment needed by the student would cost.
There will be changes also to the rules governing the reimbursement of travel costs in connection with medical care obtained with a voucher. Travel costs to and from the treatment provider will be reimbursed in the same way as trips to a provider selected in accordance with the freedom of choice enshrined in the Health Care Act. This usually means the main health centre operated by a municipality or joint municipal authority.
New project testing a registration system for rehabilitation service providers
Kela will launch a new project in early 2021 to test a registration system with two types of rehabilitation service. Rehabilitation service providers can register as providers of Oma väylä rehabilitation services or cardiac rehabilitation courses for adult clients if they meet specific criteria and agree to provide the services at a price set by Kela.
For rehabilitation clients, the experiment will offer greater choice to select their service provider and more information about how the services are implemented.
New type of neuropsychiatric rehabilitation for adolescents and young adults
A new form of rehabilitation titled in Finnish Oma väylä (My Way) is intended for young people between 16 and 19 who have a neuropsychiatric disorder and need support with their social and daily living skills and with work and studies.
Applications for Oma väylä rehabilitation are accepted from young persons who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder without accompanying intellectual impairment (Asperger syndrome) or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The Oma Väylä rehabilitation will launch in April 2021.
Oras rehabilitation: Help with work-induced burnout
Oras rehabilitation is intended for clients over the age of 18 who experience burnout symptoms that jeopardise their ability to carry on working. Clients get practical guidance and advice on how to cope with the challenges they face at work and in their daily lives. Courses will begin in April 2021.
Rehabilitation course for persons with sleep apnea
Clients participating in rehabilitation for persons with sleep apnea get practical guidance and advice on how to deal with challenges in work and daily life. They can also recognise their own strengths and resources and acquire skills to use them to their advantage. The course is intended for clients aged 20 and over. Courses will begin in May 2021.
Combining distance rehabilitation with face-to-face inpatient rehabilitation
Starting in spring 2021, selected rehabilitation and adaptation training courses will feature some amount of distance rehabilitation along with the regular face-to-face sessions. The distance rehabilitation is provided in the form of real-time videoconferencing and as on-demand online rehabilitation.
The following courses containing a distance rehabilitation component will begin in spring 2021:
- adaptation training for young persons with type 1 diabetes
- adaptation training for adults with type 1 diabetes
- adaptation training for persons with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes
- mental health rehabilitation course for young persons (Itu)
- rehabilitation course for family caregivers
- adaptation training for adults with a respiratory condition.
The full amount of the national pension for recipients living alone will be EUR 665.29 per month (up from EUR 662.86 in 2020). The corresponding amount for those living together with another person will be EUR 593.97 per month (up from EUR 591.79 in 2020).
The full amount of the guarantee pension and of pension assistance will be EUR 837.59 per month (EUR 834.52 per month in 2020).
The starting pension for surviving spouses will be EUR 328.74 per month, and the basic amount of the continuing pension EUR 102.97 per month. The basic amount of the orphans' pension will be EUR 60.49 per month.
The increase available to pensioners with a dependent child under 16 years of age will be EUR 22.23 per month.
The front-veterans’ supplement will be EUR 125.46 per month, while the additional front-veterans' supplement will be EUR 258.13 per month for recipients living alone and EUR 226.04 per month for those living together with another person.
The earnings limit for putting a disability or guarantee pension on hold will go up as well. Recipients of a disability pension can in 2021 earn a maximum of EUR 837.59 per month without any effect on the further payment of the disability pension or guarantee pension.
Changes in the housing allowance for pensioners
The maximum housing costs taken into account in the housing allowance for pensioners will be increased by 0.9% in all three municipality categories.
The maximum amount of housing costs will be
- EUR 8,433 per year in category 1 municipalities
- EUR 7,755 per year in category 2 municipalities
- EUR 6,804 per year in category 3 municipalities.
The amount of water charges that can be recognised as housing costs will be raised to EUR 29.81 per person per month (up from EUR 29.42 in 2020). Recognised heating costs will remain unchanged. The recognised monthly costs of maintenance for a single-family home will increase to EUR 43.44 from EUR 43.28 in 2020. These increases will be applied in forthcoming reviews of the housing allowance for pensioners.
Increases in disability benefits
Disability benefits will be increased slightly starting 1 January 2021 in line with index adjustments:
Disability allowance for persons under age 16
- basic disability allowance EUR 93.39 / month
- increased disability allowance EUR 217.93 / month
- highest disability allowance EUR 422.58 / month
Disability allowance for persons aged 16 years or over
- basic disability allowance EUR 93.39 / month
- increased disability allowance EUR 217.93 / month
- highest disability allowance EUR 422.58 / month
Care allowance for pensioners
- basic care allowance EUR 71.48 / month
- increased care allowance EUR 155.72 / month
- highest care allowance EUR 329.27 / month
- disability supplement for veterans EUR 107.88 / month
Earnings threshold to qualify for social security coverage will be increased for persons employed in Finland
Workers arriving in Finland from another country may be eligible for social benefits from Kela. They are eligible if they earn at least EUR 726.27 per month (up from EUR 723.69 per month in 2020). This corresponds to the amount of the basic unemployment allowance per month. Benefits are available for months in which the threshold is exceeded.
The impact of Brexit on social security
The transition period under the Brexit agreement will end on 31 December 2020. The social security coverage of persons who moved to Finland from the United Kingdom or vice versa before the end of the transition period will remain largely unchanged also after 31 December 2020.
The social security rights of persons moving after the transition period has ended will depend on agreements made between the EU and the United Kingdom. The negotiations are still underway. We will provide updates on Brexit’s impact on Kela benefits as soon as information becomes available. The updates will be posted at Information about Brexit - kela.fi.