• Sweden edition
 
Foreign-born workers miss out on pensions

Foreign-born workers miss out on pensions

Published: 28 Oct 2013 12:34 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Oct 2013 12:34 GMT+01:00

Hundreds of thousands of foreign-born residents in Sweden have the right to a pension, but don't know it. A new campaign by the Swedish Pensions Agency (Pensionsmyndigheten) aims to change that with advertisements in eight minority languages.

Every February the Swedish Pensions Agency sends out millions of "Orange Envelopes". The envelopes contain information calculating how much the recipient will earn from the national public pension scheme (allmänna pensionen) after retirement.

But many foreign-born residents aren't taking out their pension, or aren't receiving as much support as they are entitled - most likely because they don't understand the contents of the envelope.

"At least some hundred of thousands aren't getting full benefits," pension agency expert Arne Paulsson told The Local. "We have a lot of immigrants here who are not so good at the Swedish language and don't read the information they get in the orange letters."

The agency is now launching a campaign in eight different languages, including English, with the message that everyone who lives or works in Sweden has a right to a pension.

"These people need to know that if you work, and of course pay your taxes, or just live here, then you are entitled to a pension," agency information manager Sofia Wagner told The Local.

RELATED ARTICLE: Seven reasons why Swedes should employ immigrants

In order to receive a full-scale pension in Sweden, people must work a minimum of 40 years. For this reason foreign-born workers in Sweden risk scraping by on nominal sums after retirement. Foreign-born workers in Sweden receive on average 275,565 kronor ($43,600) in pension, compared with 918,710 kronor ($145,400) for those born in Sweden.

"It's just basic security, a garantipension (guarantee pension)," Paulsson explained. "You are supported in a way you can survive, but you are not able to afford many things."

But Wagner said there is additional support available for those who know where to find it.

"Quite a few people are afraid when they near retirement, wondering, 'How will my retirement be? I don’t have enough money'. And if you come here when you are 40, of course you will have a lower pension. But there are security systems in Sweden to see to that you do have enough money to live off, at least so that you can cope," Wagner told The Local.

"For instance, there are housing allowances to help you pay your rent. But there are certain rules for this and you need to apply to it."

Wagner said a 2012 review estimated that 140,000 people are eligible for a housing allowance, but haven't applied for one. She hopes the educational campaign will change that.

"We have multilingual staff who are giving out folders with contact information in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. We are also educating the staff at community centres, since these language groups often go there for society information. For Arabic and Somali speakers we are also giving out informational calendars with both Swedish and Muslim holidays."

RELATED ARTICLE: Seven tips for snagging a job at Sweden's most attractive companies

Even those who have worked or lived in Sweden but then moved abroad are eligible for Swedish pensions, but only if the agency can track them down – an obstacle which prevents thousands of retirees from getting benefits.

"Every year we send about 230,000 orange envelopes abroad to people who don’t live in Sweden but have earned towards Swedish pensions," agency spokesperson Mattias Bengtsson Byström told The Local.

"But there are 300,000 people who have moved abroad who we just can't find. People who moved away in the 1970s and have moved around since then and didn’t update their addresses at the Swedish tax agency (Skatteverket)."

Byström added that many of the these pensioners may already have passed away, but the agency lacks information about their deaths. Their pension money would normally go back into the system and contribute to other pensioners' plans, but since the agency cannot confirm their deaths the situation is more complicated.

The new campaign consists primarily of online and radio advertisements in Arabic, Farsi, Polish, English, Spanish, Turkish, Croatian, and Somali. The ads will be displayed on international news sites reached by computer IP addresses in Sweden, and prime-time radio announcements will be featured on popular Persian radio channels in Sweden.

"There are many immigrants who don't know that much about the Swedish pension system and it's really important that they feel secure," Wagner told The Local.

"We don't want anyone to feel vulnerable."

Solveig Rundquist

Follow Solveig on Twitter

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Police seeking missing Swede in London
Sofie Marie Jansson, who is currently missing in London. Photo: Metropolitan Police

Police seeking missing Swede in London

British police have issued a plea for tips in the search to find Swedish national Sofie Marie Jansson who hasn't been seen for almost a week. READ () »

University applications rocket to record high

University applications rocket to record high

Swedish universities continue to draw vast amounts of applicants with the number of prospective students seeking a third level education increasing for the seventh year in a row. READ () »

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot
Swedish artist Lars Vilks pictured in New York in 2012. Photo: Linus Sundahl-Djerf/TT

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot

American authorities have sentenced a 20-year-old accomplice of 'Jihad Jane' to five years in prison for an attempted terror plot to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, after getting involved with the murder plans when he was a teenager. READ () »

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input
Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag visits a school in Tensta, one of the neighbourhoods mentioned when he and his colleagues first floated the new start zone proposal. File: TT

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input

Sweden has abandoned a plan to ease taxes for small companies in blighted areas after the European Commission challenged its legality. READ () »

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'
A typical Swedish Easter egg. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'

A Swedish microbiologist has warned that traditional Swedish Easter eggs laden with candy are an open invitation to the spread of bacteria and viruses. "Is this really a good idea?" he asked. READ () »

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour

PICTURES: A truck got wedged inside a tunnel in central Stockholm on Thursday, with authorities concerned the accident may have damaged cables in the tunnel's ceiling. READ () »

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
A Swedish Easter witch holding daffodils. File photo: TT

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter

In India, I'd notice Easter only from the traffic jam outside the churches, but here witches, egg hunts, and feathers mark the Christian holiday. The Local's Deepti Vashisht brings you the various shades of Swedish Easter. READ () »

Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Chemtrails?: Shutterstock.

Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe

A Swedish MP who launched an official government investigation into the existence of chemtrails tells The Local why he thinks Swedes deserve the truth, even if it may leave some conspiracy theorists unsatisfied. READ () »

PM pleads ignorance of Vattenfall's Nuon bid
Fredrik Reinfeldt answers the constitutional affairs committee's questions. Photo: TT

PM pleads ignorance of Vattenfall's Nuon bid

Sweden's prime minister on Thursday said Vattenfall itself, not its owners the Swedish state, had responsibility for the loss-making Nuon deal. READ () »

'Kockums submarine raid may be illegal': lawyer
Photo: TT

'Kockums submarine raid may be illegal': lawyer

A Swedish lawyer says the Swedish military may have broken the law when it raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Advertisement:
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

771
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com