Recipient of financial social assistance

Social assistance is the last resort minimum income scheme of the Nordic social security systems meant for people with acute short-term financial difficulties to assure subsistence when their own income and resources are insufficient to cover daily expenses.

Means tested benefit

Social assistance is a strictly means tested benefit, usually all other means of income must be exhausted before becoming eligible for social assistance, including the resources of other family members in the household. The recipients could be required to realise certain financial assets or move to a more reasonable dwelling.

Social assistance in general is based on the principle that everyone should be guaranteed a reasonable standard of living, which includes an adequate minimum income.

Common Nordic benefit properties

There are some differences in the form of social assistance between the Nordic countries, but common properties are support for ordinary living and housing expenses which are often covered in full.

Some countries concentrate more on cash benefits where others offer a wider variety of free services, also the amount of discretion regarding extraordinary expenses varies a lot. Eligibility to social assistance tends to include some nationality and residence requirements and conditions relating to work availability.