Many struggling pensioners reluctant to request state benefits

Pro Senectute also provides financial counselling for struggling elderly people. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Around 230,000 retirees in Switzerland do not receive supplementary state benefits to guarantee a minimum standard of living, although they are legally entitled to, an elderly rights group has said.

This content was published on April 3, 2023 - 11:49

“In discussions with older people in difficult financial situations, we often learn that they have been eligible for supplementary benefits for a long time, but don’t request them,” Pro Senectute director Alain Huber said on Monday.

+ How one retired couple struggles to make ends meet

Supplementary benefits provide assistance in cases where pensions and income do not cover minimum living costs. They are a legal entitlement and not a form of public or social welfare, writes the Swiss social insurance information portalExternal link.

The main factor behind the reluctance of many to request the benefits is a lack of awareness of their existence, Pro Senectute says.

Three other factors also act as deterrents: administrative hurdles, a desire not to become a burden to the state or to others, and shame or fear of losing residency status.

Growing need

Pro Senectute predicts that demographic changes and cost of living hikes mean these benefits are likely to become even more important in the coming years.

+ Explainer: Swiss pension system

A separate study by the group last autumn estimated that one in seven pensioners in the country live on or under the poverty line, defined as CHF2,279 ($2,300) per month to pay for rent, health insurance, clothes and food.

The latest study was carried out by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and polled 3,300 people over the age of 65, living at home. The figure of 230,000 represents around 15% of this segment of the population.

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