Social security

State health insurance, unemployment and pension

Social security

The Netherlands has a comprehensive, but complicated social security system which is becoming more restrictive. A couple of the social welfare benefits will be explained below. For more information go to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Welfare website.

Citizen service number (BSN, burgerservicenummer)  

A BSN (burgerservicenummer) is a citizen service number, a unique registration number that is assigned to everyone who lives in the Netherlands. If you want to make use of the social security system, open a bank or healthcare you’ll need a BSN number.

Welfare system

The welfare system can be divided into three categories:

  • National insurance: this is administered by the social insurance bank (SVB) which includes old age pension (AOW) and child benefit (AKW).
  • Employee Insurance: this is administered by the UWV, the social security agency. The Dutch employee insurance covers unemployment and long-term disability.
  • Social assistance: this is administered by the municipalities. For instance, when someone has insufficient means to support themselves they are eligible for social assistance. ( ).

There are specific conditions for every benefit. Consult the Ministry of Social Affairs and Welfare  website.

General old age pensions act (AOW)

The General Old Age Pensions Act (AOW)  is a basic pension for people aged 67 and older. Anyone who lives or works in the Netherlands is insured for the state pension AOW. This is a basic provision, which entitles one person to a monthly gross payment of around EUR 1,000 and a married person to around EUR 700 (excluding holiday allowance). The AOW is built up over 50 years.

Unemployment insurance (WW)

If you become fully or partly unemployed, you can apply for a WW benefit. This falls under the Unemployment Insurance Act (Werkloosheid Wet) - to compensate for the loss of earnings. This benefit is paid out for a certain term and serves as a bridge between two jobs. Among the conditions attached to this benefit is the explicit understanding that you must be available for work. The period of time that you spent working is also taken into account. The amount and the term of the benefit you receive depend on your employment history.

Child benefit (Kinderbijslag)

Parents are given a contribution towards the costs of raising and caring for children aged up to 18 years. How much Child Benefit  a person receives depends on the age of the child.

Sickness benefits act (Ziektewet)

The Sickness Benefits Act applies only to those who are sick and do not have or no longer have an employer. The sickness benefit amounts to at least 7% of the daily wage. People who do have a job receive part of their salary from their employer over a certain period of time that can add up to 24 months. Depending on which sector you’re working in and the collective employment agreement, the minimum you will receive is 70% of your salary during 12 months.

The Work and Social Assistance Act (Wet Werk en Bijstand, WWB )

Any legal resident of the Netherlands who can’t support himself is granted a minimum income. If someone from a household has adequate income, the household is no longer eligible for assistance. Meaning someone without income living with a partner or parents with adequate income is not eligible.

Further reading

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