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Foreign-born can become new poor retirees – Prisca saves 1100 per month – municipal worker

Foreign-born can become new poor retirees – Prisca saves 1100 per month – municipal worker

Prisca Pedersen came to Sweden from Nigeria in 2007. She quickly learned Swedish, studied to be a nurse and got a job as a home caregiver in Malmö. Today she is 49 years old, but she is already thinking about what it will be like when she retires.

Not least when you see care recipients collecting trash on the balcony.

– They keep the garbage bags until a relative comes and takes them. Many seniors refuse efforts like taking out the trash because they can’t afford to pay the home care bill. They have lived in Sweden all their lives – how do I get along?

When prisca pedersen logged on a few years ago So the expectation was that she would receive a pension of SEK 8,800, before taxes. This is what you get if you stop working at 65.

– Then I started trying to save money. I put in 1100 SEK every month.

40 years old is required in Sweden

The fact that immigrants receive a lower pension is due to the fact that they did not have time to earn the same amount of pension, but also because they receive a smaller share of the state-guaranteed pension. It exists so that low-income people have a pension they can live on.

To get a fully guaranteed pension, you must have lived in Sweden for 40 years. You can see how time in Sweden affects your pension in the examples below.

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A person with an average local salary who has worked full time for 20 years in Sweden receives SEK 8,600 in after-tax pension. Anyone who has lived and worked in Sweden for just 10 years receives just under 4,600 SEK.

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Christina Kamp, pensions expert at, says that in the past there has been a lot of focus on low pensions for women. But future generations have worked more and will also get a higher job pension.

– She says that those who are at risk of becoming poor new retirees are those born abroad.

Should work up to 68

Priscah Pedersen wants to retire at 65. But for her generation, the retirement age will be raised to 68. Only then will she be able to participate in the guaranteed pension. If she retires at 68, she will have accumulated 35 years in Sweden. Then the pension is 13800 before tax.

– But I won’t be able to work for a long time, it’s not like you’re struggling now, it’s going to be hard. She says my body is already in pain.

Prisca Pedersen.

Those receiving a reduced pension can apply for housing allowance for rental assistance (see factbox below). Make a big difference. A person who obtains this certificate will receive approximately the same income as an ordinary municipal employee who has lived in Sweden all his life and worked full time.

But not everyone receives a housing allowance and many immigrants risk becoming poor pensioners.

– Those who come from countries without an effective pension system often also don’t get any pension from working in their home country, says Eric Werm, an analyst with the pension agency.

Check if you are entitled to extra money

  • Those with a low pension can get government subsidies for support and, above all, for rent payments. It is called housing allowance and to get it you must have reached retirement age. Today it is 66, but it will be higher. (On you can enter your year of birth and check your retirement age) You must also withdraw your entire public pension in order to apply for housing allowance.
  • You can already enter and calculating whether you are entitled to a housing allowance.
  • You shouldn’t have much income, and then your pension and your money, stocks or savings count. The entire family income is counted. If your spouse has a large income, you may be denied it.
  • Those with a very low pension or no pension at all can also get old-age support. The pension authority tests it at the same time you apply for housing allowance.
  • Elderly Support As a pensioner you are entitled to a “reasonable standard of living”, meaning you have enough left over to live on when you pay for housing. In 2023, a reasonable standard of living was considered to be SEK 6,719 per month for single individuals and SEK 5,404 per month if you have a spouse, partner or partner.
  • Elderly support is more generous than subsidy, for example you can have 100,000 SEK in the bank and own a car. However, the income of the entire family is counted. This means that even someone with a very low pension can be denied support.

Source: Swedish Pensions Agency

Prisca Pedersen worked in a school in Nigeria before coming to Sweden. But the school was private and in Nigeria only government employees get a pension. It may seem unfair to her that she cannot receive a full pension in Sweden. At the same time, she points out that there are more injustices in the pension system.

For example, many low-wage workers who have worked their entire lives in Sweden hardly receive a pension any more than those who have not worked at all.

– This is also wrong, says Prisca Pedersen.

More people are becoming poor retirees

Previously, an exception was made for refugees who received a residence permit for asylum reasons. They can receive a full guaranteed pension even if they have not lived in Sweden for a long time. But the government removed it from this year.

This means that the proportion of retirees with low financial standards will rise, according to the Swedish Pensions Agency.

– This will result in more people receiving support for the elderly than today. It should also lead to more people with lower financial standards, Eric Firm says.

Elderly support is a type of social benefit for pensioners with a really low pension (see fact box below). For those born abroad, it no longer helps to work, it only reduces the guaranteed pension.

Christina Camp believes that politicians need to revise pension rules so that even those born abroad can get a reasonable pension.

– Otherwise, the danger is that their children will feel that they have to provide for them.

Poor retirees

  • Poor pensioners usually mean people who live in families with a relatively low financial level. In 2023, it will be SEK 15,000 per month per capita.
  • Pension Agency analysis shows that the highest percentage of poor pensioners are among people born in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Palestine and Somalia. These are countries that often don’t pay any pensions to those who have immigrated.
  • This group of retirees has such a low pension that they often receive old age support, which is a kind of social benefit for pensioners. Some have too low housing costs to receive housing allowance, or they have not applied for it.

source: Pensions Authority