Refugees get equal to pension rights for 40 years
Refugees residing in Norway are entitled to rights that otherwise require 40 years of membership in the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme.
«Refugees residing in Norway are entitled to an equivalent to a 40-years of income in the National Insurance Scheme – with full rights from day one.»
Conclusion: 100% true
It is true that refugees residing in Norway are entitled to rights that otherwise require 40 years of membership in the National Insurance Scheme and that the rights apply from day one.
There are different requirements for entitlement to various benefits through the National Insurance Scheme. For old-age pension and disability pension it is a requirement that you have been a member of the National Insurance for 40 years, that is, you have lived in Norway for 40 years, for full benefit.
Refugees are exempt from this requirement and may receive the benefit with effect from the month after they have been granted a residence permit. They must in line with all others, fulfil the other requirements, such as disability or high age.
«It is a big political scandal that refugees who are allowed to stay in Norway are entitled to a 40-year income in the National Insurance Scheme – with all rights from day one.»
This writes Vidar Kleppe, Political Deputy for the Norwegian Democrats in a reader post in Bodøposten on November 8th. Kleppe also published it on his Facebook page, where it is shared close to 400 times.
Faktisk.no has received several tips from readers who wonder if it true that refugees who are allowed to stay in Norway, are entitled to 40 years of employment in the National Insurance Scheme, and that the rights apply from the first day.
We will provide an answer to that in this fact check.
Social insurance system
The National Insurance Scheme was introduced on January 1st, 1967, and is supposed to be a social insurance scheme for those who are covered by it. According to the law, the scheme will secure income and « compensate for special expenses for unemployment, pregnancy and childbirth, single care for children, illness and injury, disability, old age and death.»
The National Insurance must also «contribute to equalization of income and living conditions over the individual’s life course and between groups of people.» The aim is that everyone should be able to support themselves and get the best possible everyday life.
Most of the National Insurance is administered by NAV.
Refugees are mandatory members
All residents legally resident in Norway are registered in the National Insurance Scheme. You are considered a resident if you have been legally resident in Norway for at least one year, or if your stay in Norway is intended to last for at least one year.
Previously, Faktisk.no has checked the claim that «Asylum seekers get maximum pensions without moving a finger …» This was factually checked to be completely incorrect:
Vidar Kleppe is talking about refugees, which are not the same as asylum seekers.
A Refugee is defined by Norwegian law as a foreigner who has been granted a residence permit in Norway because the person needs protection. When a refugee is granted a residence permit in Norway, the person is a mandatory member of the scheme.
Retirement and earnings
There are different requirements for entitlement to various benefits through the National Insurance Scheme. One of these requirements is called insurance time.
In order to receive a full pension or disability insurance, at least 40 years of age is required to receive social security or social security benefits. That is, one must have lived in Norway and been a member of the National Insurance scheme for at least 40 years. If the insurance period is shorter, the payout will be reduced according to the number of years shy of the requirement.
Refugees needn’t comply with this requirement under the National Insurance Act. In proposition 85 L (2016–2017) the Government writes the following:
«Refugees earn the right to retirement and disability benefits from the National Insurance scheme in a regular way – through residency and work in Norway – as for anybody else who has legal residence in Norway. For refugees who do not have 40 years of retirement when the retirement occurs, This requirement is considered fulfilled, thus providing a guarantee that they are at least entitled to retirement on the same level as people who have lived all their lives in Norway without having been active in the work life.»
In other words, refugees do not suffer a reduction in disability benefits or pensions, even if they have not lived in Norway for 40 years. Nor does the requirement apply for retirement to a surviving spouse, or for child benefits for children who have lost one of their parents. Here Vidar Kleppe is 100% right when he writes that «Refugees who are allowed to stay in Norway are entitled to 40 years of entitlement by the National Insurance Scheme».
Refugees must equally fulfil the other requirements for retirement and disability insurance, such as illness or seniority.
What about residency time?
The National Insurance also provides many benefits that do not require 40 years of membership. However, one or three years of membership in the National Insurance is required in advance of receiving any of those benefits. This is also called residency time. This means that as a rule, you must have lived in Norway for years before you will receive any money. This applies to unemployment benefits, benefits to single caretakers and utility aids, such as wheelchairs. Pensions and disability benefits are also covered by this requirement.
According to the National Insurance Act, refugees are exempted from fulfilling this. The Government writes:
– This means, for example, that a refugee who already fulfils the other conditions for entitlement to [unemployment allowance/benefit to single caretaker/aids] will be able to receive the benefit with effect from the month after receiving a residence permit.
Could not change the law
Gudrun Holgersen is Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Law at the University of Bergen. She is an expert in the National Insurance Act, saying that the rules are made so because the legislator, ie the Norwegian Parliament, does not want to place refugees in a more difficult situation than other legal residents in Norway:
– Those who volunteer to reside in Norway may have earned pension rights in their home country that they may later claim from there. We can not assume that refugees can do so, Holgersen enlightens.
On June 1st, 2017, the Conservatives (Høyre) and Progress Party (FrP) joined in proposed changes to the National Insurance Act, the Cash Benefit Act and the Act on Supplementary Benefits for Persons with Short Term Residency in Norway.
Briefly explained, the Government’s proposal was to amend the provisions on refugees’ rights in the National Insurance Act and the Cash Benefit Act, as well as to allow refugees to be covered by the Act on Supplementary Benefits in Persons with Short Term Residency in Norway.
The Government wished at the same time increase the so-called long-term requirement, such that one must have lived in Norway for at least five years to be entitled to a pension, disability insurance, unemployment benefits and benefits to single caretakers. In addition, they would require five years of residence in Norway to be entitled to cash benefits for children staying at home, instead of in a kindergarten.
Only the requirement for Five years of residence for cash benefits was carried. The other amendments did not receive a majority in the Parliament (Stortinget).
In 2015, NAV published an article, where they refer to concrete examples to explain how the rules affect three people with different statuses who take out retirement pensions at the age of 67. Here, the third example is of a refugee:
- Kari from Norway. Have lived in Norway for a lifetime. At the age of 67, she is retired with full retirement age (40 years). Since she has not been working, she has a calculated minimum pension level.
- Jelena from Russia. Have been granted residence in Norway based on family reunification. At the age of 67, she has lived for ten years in Norway. She has a ten-year period of insurance calculated. She is entitled to a retirement pension corresponding to 10/40 parts of a minimum pension (ie 25%).
- Khaled from Syria. He has been granted residence in Norway as a refugee under the Immigration Act’s §28. At the age of 67, he has lived for five years in Norway. As a result of the special rules for refugees, he is granted full insurance and complete special allowances. He is entitled to a Minimum pension.