When you enter the Swedish welfare system you become part of, what some call the best Social Security System in the World.
Some might disagree but we think it’s fair to say that our Social Security System is good even though there is room for improvement.
How does the Social Security System work?
The Social Security system in Sweden is quite comprehensive and administrated by many different authorities. Some of them will soon become familiar to you, like the:
- the Tax Agency – Skatteverket
- the Social Insurance Agency – Försäkringskassan
- the Migration Board – Migrationsverket
- the National Board of Student Aid – Centrala Studiestödsnämnden, CSN (page is in Swedish but you can choose your language in the top menu.)
While, other authorities will remain more or less unknown to you (and most Swedes in general).
However, the common thing for them all is that they fill a crucial function within their area. Figuring these authorities out – understanding how they work and what they do will make your life in Sweden a lot easier.
How to apply for social benefits
So, you’ve registered with the Tax Agency – Skatteverket – you’ve got your personnummer and registered with the Social Insurance Agency – Försäkringskassan? Great!
Does this make your eligible for social benefits? Maybe. You need to specifically apply for particular social benefits (like e.g. parental leave). This is mostly done online and Försäkringskassan will determine if you meet the requirements or not.
So far so good, but you may have to prepare for a bit of a wait. Determining if you meet the requirements can be a time consuming process. Your application will probably run with great ease as long as you meet all the requirements without any exceptions. Yet this is rarely the case.
Most people’s lives are full of twists and turns. Unfortunately it’s not always easy for Försäkringskassan to adapt to this reality. This inability is partly caused by the complexity of the system as different social benefits are applicable at different times under different circumstances. But it is also caused by a combination of strict rules with sometimes blurry guidelines.
So if you have to wait and if you are application is questioned – don’t take it personally. This happens to almost everyone. See it as an experience you share with most Swedes.
Tips for you who suffer from authority fear
Do you get nervous when speaking to different authorities? Many have big respect for authorities. Moving to a new country comes with a lot of authority contact. To avoid these authorities because of fear, will make your life in Sweden harder than it needs to be. However, you should remember this:
- You are not alone. Many feel some sort of authority fear and it’s normal to get nervous.
- Your fear is – to a very high extend – irrational. People who work at these authorities are regular people.
- The sometimes blurred rules, regulations and guidelines are hard for everyone.
- Don’t take it personally.
- Everyone who works for an authority, work for the society. You are part of that society. So in a way, these people work for you.