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, 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 enroll 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 Dutch social security and how to claim your benefits:
- Who has to pay social security in the Netherlands?
- Who can claim social security benefits: will it affect your residence rights?
- The Dutch social security system
- Residents in the Netherlands: Social insurance
- Employees in the Netherlands: Employment social security
- Self-employment in the Netherlands
- Family benefits and child allowance in the Netherlands
- Maternity leave in the Netherlands
- Pensions in the Netherlands
- Survivor’s benefits
- Long-term care social security system benefits
- Unemployment benefits Netherlands
- Sick leave benefits
- Netherlands disability benefits
- Contacts for Dutch social security
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Who has to pay Dutch social security?
Everyone who lives in the Netherlands must pay into the Dutch 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 the Netherlands’ 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 Netherlands’ 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:
- Dutch pension system (Algemene Ouderdomswet, AOW)
- Child benefits (Algemene Kinderbijslagwet, AKW)
- Survivor benefits (Algemene nabestaandenwet, Anw)
- Long-term care (Wet langdurige zorg, Wlz).
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:
- Unemployment benefits (Werkloosheidswet, or WW)
- Sick leave (Ziektewet)
- Disability benefits (Wet Inkomen en Arbeid, or WIA)
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.
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.
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.
Unemployment benefits Netherlands
Employees are entitled to unemployment benefits 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 is three years as of 2017.
The amount of Dutch 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).
The 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 Dutch 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
- Social Insurance Bank (SVB) — national insurance organisation of the Netherlands (social security system online)
- Institute for Employee Insurance (UWV) — employee insurance organisation of the Netherlands
- Care Needs Assessment Centre (CIZ) — Dutch organisation for long-term care assessment
- Central Administration Office (CAK) — public administrative body of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport