The Swedish pension system is hard on newcomers. The requirement to obtain the maximum guaranteed pension (garantipension) is with some exception, that the person has lived in Sweden for 40 years. This means that many foreign-born Swedes are left out of the basic protection.
About 225 000 pensioners live below the EU poverty threshold, according to the Swedish Pension Agency (called Pensionsmyndigheten in Swedish). The proportion of poor elderly has increased dramatically since 2006 and the percentage of new Swedes, is significant within this group.
The Swedish pension system is based on the principle that you work for your own retirement during your work life. There are different categories within the pension system and the bottom safety line is the so-called guarantee pension (garantipension). To get the maximum guarantee pension, which today is about 8.000 SEK/ a month, you must have lived in Sweden for 40 years. If you have been in Sweden less time, the pension will be lower.
Exceptions are made for people who come to Sweden as refugees seeking protection. But for a large group of newcomers, including immigrants who are granted residence permit based on family ties, this does not apply.
Adding to the problem is the fact that newcomers often have a weak position on the labour market. Many newcomers end up in low-wage occupations, which often lack occupational pension, called tjänstepension in Swedish, which is another pension category within the Swedish pension system.
Make sure to keep yourself informed
However, pensioners might be entitled to supplementary support. One supplement is the bostadstillägg, an housing supplement that might cover a part of the rent. The problem however, is that very few newcomers are familiar with how the social security system in Sweden works and do not apply for this additional support. The Swedish Pension Agency estimates that over 100 000 pensioners are entitled to housing allowance without applying for it.
There is also a maintenance support for the elderly, which is a type of social assistance for pensioners. The Swedish Pension Agency recommends pensioners to contact them to get more information about what support they may be entitled to.
Psst, we will soon launch an new section on our webpage where we will explain more about how the Swedish pension system work. So, sign up for our newsletter and stay tuned!