Sharp growth social assistance benefits granted to over-65s

21/09/2011 15:00

At the end of June this year, 40 thousand social assistance benefits went to over-65 households, i.e. twice as many as a decade ago. The reason for the increase is that more and more over-65 households are not eligible for the full old age pension (AOW) amount.

Social assistance benefits to over-65 households, end of June

Social assistance benefits to over-65 households, end of June

Partial AOW benefits are supplemented

The number of social assistance benefits applied for by household members aged 65 or older has more than doubled from 18 thousand in 2000 to nearly 40 thousand in 2011. The number of over-65s in the Netherlands has increased by more than one fifth during the same period.

Migrants who settled in the Netherlands in the second half of the twentieth century are the main cause for the increase. Many of them receive a partial AOW benefit. They are not eligible for the full amount as they have lived abroad prior to their arrival in the Netherlands. The Act on Income and Social Assistance (WWB) supplements their income to prevent their household income from dropping under the minimum subsistence level. This provision is also known as the supplementary old age pension (AIO).

Nine in ten over-65 households receiving social assistance benefits have a foreign background

Nine in ten social assistance benefits were paid to over-65 households having a foreign – in most cases non-western – background. The high proportion of older people from Surinam receiving social assistance benefits is partly due to the fact that Surinam had its own social security system prior to its independence in 1975. Although Surinamese people living in Surinam were Dutch nationals before 1975, they were not eligible for AOW, because they had their own social security system.

Social assistance benefits granted to over-65 households by ethnic background, end of June 2011

Social assistance benefits granted to over-65 households by ethnic background, end of June 2011

Two in three older benefit recipients are singles

Two in every three over-65 social security recipients (26 thousand benefits) are singles; 75 percent of them are women. People with a Surinamese background are well represented among them.

Single over-65s receiving social assistance benefits, end of June 2011

Single over-65s receiving social assistance benefits, end of June 2011

Ron Pieper