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. However, access to the welfare system is increasingly restrictive, limiting access for many. Social security benefits are also paid out based on the value of your assets and savings, such as a car or house. Owning assets over the threshold amount can nullify your right to claim benefits.
In general, all foreigners who live and work in the Netherlands must pay into the Dutch social security system. In return, they can claim government benefits, including family benefits, maternity and paternity leave, unemployment benefits, long-term care, sick leave, and disability benefits. Dutch social security doesn’t cover healthcare in the Netherlands, however. All residents in the Netherlands must enroll with a health insurance provider on their own.
Specific conditions apply to each benefit under social security in the Netherlands. Your official documents must be in good order before making any claim. 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
- Maternal leave in the Netherlands
- Pensions in the Netherlands
- Survivor’s benefits
- Long-term care social security system benefits
- Unemployment benefits in the Netherlands
- Sick leave benefits
- Netherlands disability benefits
- Contacts for Dutch social security
Who has to pay Dutch social security?
Everyone who lives in the Netherlands must pay into the Dutch social security system, regardless of employment. However, 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 available on the SVB website.
Some foreigners may be subject to pay social security in both the Netherlands and their home country. There are exemptions if a social security bilateral agreement exists that prevents double taxation. Certain bilateral agreements also make it possible to transfer or combine social security benefits, particularly if you are a European Union citizen or lived 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. These include Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Croatia, Macedonia, Morocco, New Zealand, Serbia, Montenegro, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States, 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. You cannot submit any claims within the first three months of moving to the Netherlands or before starting 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. Officials determine this on a case-by-case basis. After five years of residence in the Netherlands, social security benefits can be claimed with no risk to your residency.
Non-EU nationals who have a regular residency permit also generally have the same rights to claim social security benefits. However, if your residence permit includes a condition that you cannot apply for public funds, then claiming social security benefits could negate your residence permit. You can seek advice from the social security office (SVB).
In any case, social security benefits depend on your income and assets. This includes everything you own such as a vehicle, savings, jewelry, antiques, or property. The threshold is €5,920 for single households or €11,840 for family households (2016), with limits revised every six months. Owning property also counts as an asset, although an extra limit of €49,900 is possible. This must not be exceeded by the value of your home minus the mortgage paid. If it does, you may 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, you can still ask the government (SVB) to assess whether you can claim benefits. In some cases, you may need to use such assets before receiving social security benefits.
There are other conditions you must satisfy, depending on which social security benefit you claim.
The Netherlands’ social security system
Social security in the Netherlands has two strands:
- National insurance (volksverzekeringen) is necessary for all those living in the Netherlands and covers social benefits.
- Employee insurance (werknemersverzekeringen) is necessary for those that work in the Netherlands and provides benefits relating to employment.
The Social Insurance Bank (Sociale Verzekeringsbank, or SVB) oversees the implementation of the national insurance system. The Institute for Employee Insurance (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, or UWV) handles unemployment benefits and work-related insurance in the Netherlands.
Residents in the Netherlands must use DigiD, an online identification system, to arrange their insurance and claim benefits in the Netherlands. To get DigiD, Dutch residents must register with their Dutch social security 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 receives funds through various means, including contributions from residents and taxes. Employees in the Netherlands in salaried positions have their contributions deducted automatically from their wage. Unemployed workers must pay separately.
The amount you pay for Dutch social security depends on your income, up to a maximum contribution amount (€9,490 in 2016). In 2016, rates for each particular benefit were:
- state pension fund – 17.9%
- survivor benefits – 0.6%
- long-term care – 9.65%
Employees in the Netherlands: Employment social security
When you work in a salaried position in the Netherlands, social security payments for employee insurance 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 is a hot topic for freelancers. Self-employed individuals don’t need insurance against sickness, unemployment, or disability like employees do. However, they do have the choice to enroll in a social security fund to cover these areas.
Self-employed individuals can enroll with one of several insurance companies to receive employee benefits, to which they must pay individual social security contributions. Read about taxes for freelancers in the Netherlands.
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:
- €197.51 for children ages 0–5
- €239.84 for children ages 6–11
- €282.16 for children up to 17 years old
Family allowance payments pay each quarter.
In addition to the Dutch child allowance, there is an additional child benefit dependent on income for low-salary households. Children that don’t 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 automatically receive a form. Expats with children born outside of the Netherlands should contact the SVB to request an application form and family allowance number.
Parental leave in the Netherlands
The Dutch social security contact, UWV, handles maternity and paternity leave in the Netherlands. Maternity leave pays for at least 16 weeks. This can be extended if there are complications. Paternity leave pays only for two days. 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’ll receive your full salary, calculated on your Dutch social security income (SV-loon) over the last 12 months. The maximum daily payout is €203.85. The employer generally requests paternity and maternity benefits on your behalf. However, 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 lived or worked in the Netherlands and contributed to social security, 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 receive several months before reaching 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 if 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 this, 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 a care institute
- personal care (e.g., help with washing or dressing)
- medical care (e.g., the treatment of your illness)
- supportive care (e.g., help with activities such as voluntary work or sports)
- transport (e.g., 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. 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 Dutch social security system, long-term care in the Netherlands is covered by the contributions you already pay. However, individual contributions are also 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 €159.80 and a maximum of €838.60 per month (2016). The high contribution has a maximum of €2,301.40 (2016) per month for long-term illness. You can calculate your approximate individual contribution at the CAK website.
Unemployment benefits in the Netherlands
Employees can claim unemployment benefits in the Netherlands if they partially or completely lose their jobs. Your employment history determines the amount and duration of payments. You must meet certain conditions, such as your availability to work and the minimum amount of time you worked. A full list of conditions is available 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 employment) – you’ll receive three months of unemployment benefits. You may extend your Dutch unemployment benefit, however, if you meet the year requirement. This 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. The maximum duration of Dutch unemployment benefit is three years as of 2017.
The amount of Dutch unemployment benefits you receive depends on your income from the previous year before unemployment; you receive 75% of this income for the first two months, after which it drops to 70%. The maximum benefit is €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. You can also 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% of the employee’s salary for a maximum of two years. In exceptional cases, the employer is exempt and sick leave from the Dutch government applies.
Sick leave benefits depend on your Dutch social security income. There is a maximum benefit allowance of €203.85 per day (2016). Those that become ill as a result of pregnancy or organ donation receive 100% of their salary.
Even those who are not salaried employees may receive sick pay in some cases, such as employment on an interim basis. 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 sick longer than two years and remain at least 35% disabled may apply for social security disability insurance (WIA). There are two types of disability benefits: the Return to Work for Partially Disabled Persons (Werkhervatting Gedeeltelijk Arbeidsgeschikten, WGA) and Full Invalidity Benefit Regulations (Inkomensvoorziening Volledig Arbeidsongeschikten, IVA).
The WGA pays to those who are 35–80% disabled and will work again, or when more than 80% disabled but likely to recover. The IVA pays to those at least 80% disabled and unlikely to work again.
WGA disability benefits are allocated as a salary-based benefit (loongerelateerde uitkering, LGU), in which you receive a temporary benefit. Benefits last depending on the number of years worked. If you worked fewer than 26 out of 36 weeks prior to becoming ill, you may receive additional income benefits (loonaanvullingsuitkering, LAU) or a continuation benefit (vervolguitkering, VVU). The LAU goes to those who earn at least half of what they previously earned; the VVU is for those earning less than half.
IVA disability benefits provide at least 75% of the WIA monthly salary, but people can work to earn additional income.
Self-employed people must pay into an individual insurance plan to receive disability benefits.
For youth, Wajong disability benefits may apply. Wajong disability benefits are for those who, at the age of 18, already have a long-term handicap; it also includes those that become disabled before the age of 30 and followed a study program for at least six months. Recipients get 75% of the minimum youth salary.
After the 88th week that you’re ill, you’ll receive a letter from the UWV that outlines the duration of your benefits. To apply for disability benefits, apply no later than the 93rd week. Use the online disability benefits application from the UWV.
Social security system: Contacts
- Social Insurance Bank (SVB) — national insurance organization of the Netherlands (social security system online)
- Institute for Employee Insurance (UWV) — employee insurance organization of the Netherlands
- Care Needs Assessment Centre (CIZ) — Dutch organization for long-term care assessment
- Central Administration Office (CAK) — public administrative body of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport