• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Foreign-born workers miss out on pensions

28 Oct 2013, 12:34

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

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)."

Story continues below…

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

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
So Sweden has high taxes? Not as high as you might think
A taxpayer hands in their tax declaration. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

So you think Swedes pay a lot in tax? Others pay much more, according to a new study.

Man injured in shooting at Malmö shopping mall
Rosengård Centrum in Malmö. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Police cordoned off an area around a shopping centre in Malmö after a man was shot on Tuesday afternoon.

The Local List
Ten Swedish phrases you only hear in summer
Let's work on that tan. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Summer always leaves foreigners baffled by Swedes' unique seasonal habits. Here's The Local's guide to navigating small talk when the sun comes out.

Swedish kids' TV cooks up storm with condom haggis
How, er, not to make haggis. Photo: SVT screenshot

Not the Swedish Chef as you know him.

Swedes outgrown as world's tallest people
How tiny they must look to a Dutch person! Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Forget the myth about the tall, blond, modern Viking.

Record number of drowning deaths in Sweden this year
Linus Magnusson och Ester Meijer, life guards at Skanör beach in southern Sweden last year. Photo: Andreas Hillergren/TT

More people have drowned in Sweden so far this year than in any other year this century. The good weather is getting the blame.

Presented by American Express
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
File photo: Pixabay

Getting ready to jet off on summer holidays? Be sure to check out these tips and tricks for avoiding unnecessary headaches between packing and relaxing.

Pupils' school photo Nazi salute 'wasn't criminal'
The harbour in Simrishamn, close to where the incident took place. Photo: Jorchr/Wikimedia Commons

Four high school students who performed a Nazi salute in a school photo have had their convictions for inciting racial hatred quashed by an appeal court.

The Local List
Silly season: seven strange Swedish summer stories
But at least the weather's nice. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

What are Swedish journalists to do during the long dry news spell of summer? Here are the most bizarre stories we could find.

Opinion
'We don't know how Brexit will affect our time in Sweden'
Sweden-based Brit Sarah Campbell, left. Photo: Private & AP Photo/Tim Ireland

One month after the Brexit referendum Sarah Campbell, a British reader based in Uppsala, pens a love letter to her European Union.

Sponsored Article
What can newcomers learn about Sweden at Almedalen?
National
Meet the northern Swede who is the world's best mosquito killer
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
National
Sweden's Hollywood star Alicia Vikander puts her pen in the bottle
Gallery
People-watching: July 22nd-24th
Blog updates

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 

11 July

Swedish quizzes (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I have created some quizzes you can take online to test your Swedish skills. Here…" READ »

 
 
 
The Local Voices
The Jewish Syrian who dreams of rebuilding his country
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: Where Swedes go to work (and play)
National
Watch this Swedish weather host leave his fly open... on live TV
The Local Voices
'I fled war in Syria. I never expected to be beaten in Sweden'
National
WATCH: Asylum seeker brutally beaten by Swedish bus driver
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
Why everyone is talking about Sweden's GTA pride parade
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
EU hits truck cartel with record price fixing fine
Society
OPINION: Why Sweden is the most extreme country in the world
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
The Local Voices
'There is equality in accommodation in Sweden: Everyone is suffering'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Gallery
Property of the week: Gräsö, Östhammar
Gallery
People-watching: July 15th-17th
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
National
How to make sure you're not caught out by Sweden's old bank notes
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Business & Money
Why Sweden has been named the most innovative country in Europe
National
Terror attack: what should you do?
Sponsored Article
Local guide: the best of Berlin
National
French expat on the moment he was assaulted by a Stockholm bouncer
Sponsored Article
Why you need a EuroBonus American Express Card
Technology
Gunman? Nah, smartphone Swede
The Local Voices
'If the war in Syria ended today, would you go back?'
The Local Voices
‘I feel like I’m living in a grave!’
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Princess Victoria celebrates 39th birthday
Gallery
People-watching: July 13th
National
Swedes discover surprise mountain
Politics
What Sweden's home secretary thinks of Britain's new PM
Gallery
Property of the week: Smedjebacken, Dalarna
The Local Voices
'Even xenophobic Swedes can be polite’
Politics
WATCH: A very Swedish take on Brexit...
National
Swede's fury at Daily Mail's Bråvalla 'lies'
Gallery
People-watching: July 8th-10th
The Local Voices
'The best time to be smuggled to Europe is August 20th, 2015'
The Local Voices
Swedes: Stop obsessing over your material life and start talking to strangers
3,357
jobs available