Social security in the Netherlands

Social security in the Netherlands: Your Dutch social security benefits

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Foreign workers are obliged to pay social security in the Netherlands but what Dutch social security benefits can you claim – without affecting your Dutch residency?

The Dutch social security system is one of the most comprehensive in Europe although access to the welfare system has become more restrictive in recent years, limiting access for some temporary, self-employed and fixed-term contract workers in the Netherlands. Social security benefits are also paid out based on the value of your assets and savings, such as a car or house, and owning assets over the threshold amount can nullify your right to claim benefits.

In general, however, all foreigners who live and work in the Netherlands are required to pay into the Dutch social security system and in return can claim various government benefits, including family benefits, maternity and paternity leave, unemployment benefits, long-term care, sick leave and disability benefits. Healthcare in the Netherlands is not covered under Dutch social security, however, and all residents in the Netherlands are required to enrol with a health insurance provider on their own.

Specific conditions apply to each benefit under social security in the Netherlands and your official documents will need to be in good order before making any claim. It's also important to check first that your Dutch residence permit rights are not affected if you apply for benefits.

Find out if you need to pay Netherlands social security and how to claim your benefits:

social security system - social security in the netherlands

Who has to pay Netherlands social security?

Everyone who lives in the Netherlands must pay into the Netherlands social security system, regardless of employment, although a number of exceptions exist, such as working as a civil servant at an embassy or short-term contract workers. The exceptions for Dutch social security are outlined on the SVB website.

Some foreigners may be subject to pay social security in both the Netherlands and their home country, unless a social security bilateral agreement exists that enables an exemption from paying taxes in your home country. Certain bilateral agreements also make it possible to transfer or combine social security benefits, particularly if you are a European Union citizen or were an official resident in another EU state; for example, when calculating your social security benefits, time worked abroad can count towards calculating a higher benefit rate.

The Netherlands has agreements with all countries in the European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) plus more than 30 countries, including Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Croatia, Macedonia, Morocco, New Zealand, Serbia, Montenegro, Tunisia, Turkey, United States of America and Switzerland. See the full list here.

Who can claim social security benefits?

EEA citizens typically have the same rights to social security benefits as Dutch nationals, although no claims can be made within the first three months of moving to the Netherlands or before being hired if you came to work. Up until five years of residence in the Netherlands, however, claiming social security benefits as an EU citizen can result in the withdrawal of your right to reside in the Netherlands, which is determined on a case-by-case basis. After five years of residence in the Netherlands, social security benefits can be claimed with no risk to residence rights.

Non-EU nationals who have a regular residency permit for a definite or an indefinite period of time also generally have the same rights to claim social security benefits as Dutch nationals. However, if your Dutch residence permit includes a condition that you do not qualify to apply to any public funds, which include social security, then claiming social security benefits could mean your residence permit is withdrawn. You can seek advice from the social security office (SVB).

In any case, social security benefits are determined based on your income and assets, which includes everything you own such as a car, bank savings, jewellery, antiques, a holiday home or a caravan. The threshold is EUR 5,920 for single households or EUR 11,840 for family households (2016), with limits revised every six months. Owning a home also counts as an asset, although an extra limit of EUR 49,900 is allowed, which must not be exceeded by the value of your home minus the mortgage paid. If it does, in certain situations you can instead take out an equitable mortgage, where you receive benefits as a loan with your home as collateral.

If the total value of your assets exceeds the threshold levels set by the government, you can still ask the government (SVB) to assess whether you can claim any benefits. In some cases, you may be required to use such assets (ie. selling your car) before being granted social security benefits.

There are other conditions you will have to satisfy, depending on which social security benefit you want to claim (explained below).

The social security system

Social security in the Netherlands is divided into two strands:

  • National insurance (volksverzekeringen) is required for all those living in the Netherlands and covers social benefits.
  • Employee insurance (werknemersverzekeringen) is required for those that work in the Netherlands and provides employment-related benefits.


The Social Insurance Bank (Sociale Verzekeringsbank, or SVB) oversees the implementation of the national insurance system, while the Institute for Employee Insurance (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, or UWV) handles unemployment benefits in the Netherlands and other work-related insurance programs.

Residents in the Netherlands must use DigiD, an online identification system, to arrange employee and social insurance in the Netherlands and to claim benefits. To get DigiD, Dutch residents must register with their Dutch social security number (or citizen service number, burgerservicenummer or BSN) at the DigiD website.

Residents in the Netherlands: Social insurance

Dutch national insurance covers four areas:


Social insurance is funded through various means, including contributions from residents and taxes. Employees in the Netherlands in salaried positions will have their contributions deducted automatically from their wage, while unemployed workers must pay separately.

The amount you pay for Dutch social security is calculated on your income, up to a maximum contribution amount (EUR 9,490 in 2016). In 2016, rates for each particular benefit were:

  • state pension fund – 17.90 percent
  • survivor benefits – 0.60 percent
  • long-term care – 9.65 percent.

Employees in the Netherlands: Employment social security

When you work in a salaried position in the Netherlands, social security payments for employee insurance — required for all employed persons — are automatically deducted from your income by your employer.

Employee benefits in the Netherlands cover three areas:


Self-employment in the Netherlands

With more than one million self-employed individuals (zelfstandigen zonder personeel, or ZZP) in the Netherlands, social security has become a hot topic for freelancers. Self-employed individuals are not required to be insured against sickness, unemployment or disability like salaried employees, but they do have the choice to enrol in a social security fund to cover these areas.

Self-employed individuals can enrol with one of several insurance companies to receive employee benefits, to which they must pay individual social security contributions. Read about taxes for self-employed workers.

social security system benefits - dutch social security

Family benefits and child allowance in the Netherlands

Each family with at least one child under the age of 18, including adopted and stepchildren, can receive the AKW child allowance. As of July 2016, the family allowance rates amount to:

  • EUR 197.51 for children ages 0–5
  • EUR 239.84 for children ages 6–11
  • EUR 282.16 for children up to 17 years old


Family allowance payments are paid out each quarter.

In addition to the Dutch child allowance, there is an additional child benefit dependent on income for low salary households. Children that do not live at home because of sickness, handicap or to follow a study program may be eligible to request double family benefits.

Parents of children born inside the Netherlands will automatically receive a form, while expats with children born outside of the Netherlands should contact the SVB to request an application form and family allowance number.

Maternity leave in the Netherlands

Maternity and paternity leave in the Netherlands is handled by the Dutch social security contact UWV. Maternity leave is paid out for at least 16 weeks, though it can be extended if there are complications, while paternity leave is paid out for two days only. Those that currently receive unemployment, sickness or disability benefits may also obtain maternity leave. Read more about maternity and paternity leave in our guide to having a baby in the Netherlands.

During maternity leave you will receive your full salary, calculated on your Dutch social security income (SV-loon) over the last 12 months, although there is a maximum daily payout of EUR 203.85. The employer generally requests paternity and maternity benefits on your behalf, although there are some exceptions such as the end of your contract during leave.

Self-employed individuals can receive maternity leave benefits under the ZEZ regulation, with the same benefits as salaried employees. You can apply for self-employed maternity benefits at the UWV website.

Pensions in the Netherlands

If you have lived or worked in the Netherlands and have contributed to the social security system, you may be entitled to the AOW pension fund. How much of the state pension fund you receive depends on a number of factors, including how long you have lived and been insured in the Netherlands as well as your living arrangements. The SVB outlines pension rates on its website.

To claim pension benefits, you must complete the form you that you will receive several months before you reach retirement age and return it to the SVB. Supplementary and private pension schemes must be claimed with the specific insurance company or pension provider. Read more in our guide to the Dutch pension system.

Survivor benefits in the Netherlands

The death of your partner — married or cohabitating — may entitle you to Anw survivor benefits from the Dutch government, provided your partner lived or worked in the Netherlands and you meet conditions. These benefits may also be available to children aged 21 and younger of deceased parents.

There are some exceptions to eligibility, such as an existing terminal illness. You can check your eligibility for Dutch survivor benefits on the SVB website.

If you were married or had a registered partnership, the SVB will automatically send a letter, along with an application form, with which you can apply for survivor benefits in the Netherlands. Cohabitating partners must request an application form for survivor benefits with DigiD.  

Long-term care in the Netherlands

The Long-Term Care Act (Wlz) replaced the Exceptional Medical Expenses Act (AWBZ) in 2015. This benefit entitles recipients to reimbursement for care for the elderly, handicapped or those with chronic illnesses. The type of Dutch long-term medical care depends on your personal needs but can include:

  • short- or long-term stay in an care institute
  • personal care eg. help with washing or dressing
  • medical care eg. the treatment of your illness
  • supportive care eg. help with activities such as voluntary work or sports
  • transport eg. to the hospital.


The Care Needs Assessment Centre (Centrum Indicatiestelling Zorg, or CIZ) reviews each individual case to determine whether the person qualifies for long-term medical care in the Netherlands. Individuals may fill in an application at the CIZ website, though help with the application form can be requested at the municipality free of charge.

Because this falls under the national Dutch social security system, long-term care in the Netherlands is covered by the contributions you already pay. However, individual contributions are also often made via the Central Administration Office (Centraal Administratie Kantoor, or CAK) in the form of a low or high contribution. The low contribution is made, for the most part, for the first six months; it amounts to a minimum of EUR 159.80 and a maximum of 838.60 per month (2016). The high contribution is set at a maximum of EUR 2,301.40 (2016) per month for long-term illness. You can calculate your approximate individual contribution at the CAK website.

social security system benefits - unemployment benefits netherlands

Unemployment benefits Netherlands

Employees are entitled to social security unemployment in the Netherlands if they partially or completely lose their jobs. Your employment history will determine the amount and duration of payments and certain conditions must be met, such as your availability to work and having worked for a minimum amount of time. A full list of conditions can be found on the EU website.

If you satisfy the 'week requirement' – you have worked at least 26 of the last 36 weeks (or less in certain cases such as you are an artist or musician or not in regular employement) – you will receive three months of unemployment benefits. You may extend your Dutch unemployment benefit, however, if you meet the 'year requirement', which stipulates that in at least four of the five calendar years before unemployment you received at least 52 days of salary and worked at least 208 hours. This means, for example, that someone who worked for five years may receive five months of unemployment benefits; someone who worked for two years receives three months. The maximum duration of Dutch unemployment benefit will decrease from 38 months in 2015 to 24 months from April 2019.

The amount of unemployment benefits you receive is based on your income from the previous 12 months before unemployment; you will receive 75 percent of this income for the first two months, after which it drops to 70 percent. The maximum benefit is EUR 203.85 per day. On the UWV website you can calculate your approximate unemployment benefits Netherlands.

You can apply for Dutch unemployment benefit via DigiD at www.werk.nl or at an UWV WERKbedrijf office within one week of your first day of unemployment; if you know in advance when you will become unemployed, apply two weeks before your last working day. Unemployment benefits can be restricted, however, if other benefits are in operation.

Sick leave in the Netherlands

When an employed person becomes sick, the employer is obligated to continue paying up to 70 percent of the employee’s salary for a maximum of two years. In exceptional cases, such as when the person’s contract ends during sick leave, the employer is exempt and sick leave from the Dutch government applies.

Sick leave benefits are calculated on your Dutch social security income, although there is a maximum benefit allowance of EUR 203.85 per day (2016). Those that become ill as a result of pregnancy or organ donation receive 100 percent of their salary.

Even those who are not salaried employees may receive sick pay in some cases, such as employment on an interim basis, outlined on the Dutch government website. There are a variety of situations that do not qualify for sick leave, however, such as self-employment or work abroad. Self-employed or ineligible individuals may opt into voluntary insurance to cover sick leave in the Netherlands.

After two years of sick leave, you may apply for disability benefits from your social security in the Netherlands.

Netherlands disability benefits

Those that have been sick longer than two years and remain at least 35 percent disabled may apply for social security disability insurance (WIA). There are two types of Netherlands disability benefits for disabled adults: the Return to Work for Partially Disabled Persons (Werkhervatting Gedeeltelijk Arbeidsgeschikten, WGA) and Full Invalidity Benefit Regulations (Inkomensvoorziening Volledig Arbeidsongeschikten, IVA).

social security netherlands – netherlands social securityThe WGA is paid out to those who are 35–80 percent disabled and will return to work, or when more than 80 percent disabled but likely to recover. The IVA is paid to those who are at least 80 percent disabled and may never return to work. To receive social security disability insurance, each person is required to work as much as possible.

WGA disability benefits are allocated as a salary-based benefit (loongerelateerde uitkering, LGU), in which you receive a temporary benefit based on your previous income, work history and the income you currently earn. The duration of the benefits depend on the amount of years you have worked. If you worked fewer than 26 out of 36 weeks prior to becoming ill, you may receive an additional income benefit (loonaanvullingsuitkering, LAU) or a continuation benefit (vervolguitkering, VVU). The LAU is distributed to those who earn at least half of what they previously earned; the VVU is for those who earn less than half.

IVA disability benefits provide at least 75 percent of the WIA monthly salary, but people are allowed to work and earn extra income to add to their benefits.

Self-employed people must pay into an individual insurance plan to receive disability benefits.

For young people, Wajong disability benefits may be applicable. Wajong disability benefits are for those who, at the age of 18, already have a long-term illness or handicap; it also includes those that become disabled before the age of 30 and have followed a study program for at least six months. Recipients get 75 percent of the minimum youth salary. The Participation Act was enacted in January 2015, meaning that only young people that cannot work in the future may apply for Wajong disability benefits.

After the 88th week that you are ill, you will receive a letter from the UWV that outlines the duration of your disability benefits, which should be saved. To apply for disability benefits in the Netherlands, you must fill out the appropriate forms no later than the 93rd week that you are sick. You may use the online disability benefits application at the UWV website, for which you need your DigiD login code and BSN.

Social security system: Contacts


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Updated 2017.

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12 Comments To This Article

  • nina posted:

    on 16th September 2016, 09:10:37 - Reply

    Hi, I am french and has been working in Germany for 5 years. I will move with my husband to Netherlands. My Husband has a job in Netherlands.
    The German government told me that I could transfer my unemployment money from German government to Netherlands. The German officer asked me to register myself for unemployment money in the Netherlands.
    Who shall I contact? I am so confused.

    Thanks

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • NAZZARENO posted:

    on 28th August 2016, 10:50:30 - Reply

    l am from malta and live in malta l work in holland offshore since 2002 drilling company pay taxes and socail security heir in holland l might lose my job do l have a wright for unemployment benifits in holland .

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert service]

  • julie posted:

    on 29th February 2016, 15:22:05 - Reply

    dang I got the same issue here! Let me know if u got anything on it.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Alejandra posted:

    on 6th July 2015, 19:23:15 - Reply

    Hi,
    Before apply to social aasistance, how can I check that my residence rights are not affected?
    Thanks and regards
  • expat posted:

    on 16th May 2015, 11:59:44 - Reply

    Hi Sybelle, it is very hard to find skilled jobs here without dutch. What is your native language, there can be jobs for translators or back office employees like customer support ( as some companies operate in many countries so they want people that speak those languages) you should explore such options.

    Also, go to www.duolingo.com to learn dutch for free.. its a very good site and will get u started. Then practice in supermarkets etc. to perfect it.
    Good luck !
    Some companies u can try are booking.com and travelbird , they hire non dutch speaking employees.

  • sybelle posted:

    on 26th February 2015, 20:54:36 - Reply

    Hi,
    I have my permanent residency due to my marriage. We were told that I cannot get any benefits because my husband has a job. We are having difficulties because he does not earn enough money and because I do not know that I could not find a job although I applied to employment agencies. At the moment I found a teaching job which is only 7 hours a week and most of the money is spent on travelling expenses. Before I came to Holland I was a full time teacher at a university. I am a qualified teacher with 17 years of experience but the job applications were rejected because I do not know Dutch. It is getting really frustrating because I want to go to a course to learn Dutch but while we are having difficulties financially this cannot be the case.
    In what situations can I be eligible to get social security? Regards

    [Moderator's note: You can post questions on our Ask the Expert free service]

  • joan posted:

    on 18th August 2014, 13:25:55 - Reply

    Hi im jhoan living here in philippines and i have a ducth husband he over live here in philippines over 7yrs. he have a pension call UVW. i want to stopped his pession becuase he have another girl now.iWhat i can do to stop his pension??? is there any conclusion. please help me
  • vrede posted:

    on 26th May 2014, 12:59:22 - Reply

    The system of social security is based on a poverty trap. The gov is against people from owning assets except for the selected elite group. The reason is very simple. The woning corporation is controlled by some some extremely powerful people.
  • emanuela posted:

    on 1st May 2013, 16:01:48 - Reply

    This is so true-never ever buy a place in NL!!!!
    It will cut off any entitlement to state benefits (which I am sure you want to access after all those 52 to 60% salary tax payments!) for as long as you own the house!!
  • diana posted:

    on 10th April 2013, 10:25:04 - Reply

    Hi,

    I was jobless and got my WW (a time limited unemployment benefit - 3 months for me) and then, when i was still jobless and entitled to receive 'Bijstand' (some kind of welfare which isn't time limited), the government told me that I own a house and that that is why I wasn't going to be entitled to any 'Bijstand' (600-1200eur monthly). Now, they forced me to put my place on sale, and with this recession this is not working out well, because there are no buyers. So I argued with the Bijstand people that my house can't be sold, and I am running out of cash to survive. So they advised me that I should sell the place at a loss. I explained to them that this was ensane, because i have to live somewhere, and where am I to live if my place gets sold? they told me, I could return to them after I show them the sales deed, and then I should simply get some other place in the rental market (even if it is more expensive today to rent, than back in the days when I originally bought my place). They said everyone was in the same boat. Everyone will be forced to sell before getting any 'Bijstand'. If I didn't like it, I could get a loan from a bank to survive, but I already tried it, and the bank wasn't going to help.

    I paid so much taxes and social securities over the past years, around 60% from my salary went to the government. Why don't I get anything back when I am in dire straits????

    This country is unfairly penalizing home owners and pushing them even further down in financial problems by forcing them to exchange their purchased home for a rental again
  • Paul posted:

    on 16th October 2012, 23:14:40 - Reply

    Hi,

    You can get some money from the government if you work at least 32 hours per month. I've heard that you can get 300-350 euro (the amount can depend on whether you are dutch or not)
  • MattiaRondinelli posted:

    on 30th July 2012, 20:48:18 - Reply

    Hi,
    My name's Mattia,I'm an Italian 23yo student.
    I will graduate in December and My intentions are
    to apply for a master at the Universiteit van Amsterdam,where actually I spent my last year,under the Erasmus/LLP Program.
    I would like to know if there will be the opportunity in 2013 to receive
    government funds in the Netherlands.I'm asking since an Italian friend already living and studying there told me she is receiving some kind of money(but you hae to work 40 hours a month-that's what she said)
    I thanks for this website and I kept
    Waiting for answers