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Frequently Asked Questions - Family benefits

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You are entitled to family benefits according to the legislation of the country that pays your unemployment benefits, even if your family members reside in another EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

If you are an unemployed cross-border worker (or "frontier worker") (>> see our section on unemployment benefits) you receive unemployment benefits from the country where you live and not from the one where you were last insured. In this case, the country where you live will also be responsible for your family benefits.

The entitlement to family benefits depends on each country's legislation, so ask your local social security institution for advice.  >> Use our directory to find a contact institution

As a pensioner, you normally receive family benefits from the country that pays your pension, provided that your children reside in the same country.

If your children reside in a country that does not pay you a pension and you receive a pension from more than one EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, the country where you have completed the longest period of insurance is competent to provide you with family benefits.

Yes you can. If your ex-husband doesn't use the family benefits he is receiving to maintain your family members, the institution that is providing these benefits can decide to pay them directly to you, as the person who is actually maintaining the family.

If you want to make use of this right, you have to contact the social security institution of the place where you live. They will then contact the institution responsible for providing the benefits in the other country. >> Use our directory to find a contact institution

If the parents work in two different EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland and the children live in one of these two countries, the country where the children live is responsible for your family benefits.

Entitlement to family benefits in the country where you work is suspended up to the amount of benefits provided by the country where your spouse works and where your children live. 

If the amount of family benefits paid in the country where your spouse works and your children live is lower than in the country where you work, the difference will be made up by a supplement paid by the country where you work.

 >> Use our directory to find a contact institution

In this situation, the institution of the country that provides the highest family benefit shall pay the full amount of this benefit.

The institutions of the other country will refund half of the expenses: this refund procedure is internal to the institutions involved so you will not notice it.

Your claims

You are generally entitled to family benefits in the country where you work or are unemployed. You must submit a claim to the competent institution there, where necessary through your employer. That institution will contact the institutions of the country where your family members live in order to get information about the composition of the family (number of family members, their age, address etc.).

If the country where you work is not responsible for your benefits according to the "priority rules", the institution will forward your claim to the institution of the country that is actually competent which will deal with your claim as if you had submitted it there.

No, you cannot receive family benefits twice over the same period and for the same family member. There are "priority rules" in cases of overlapping entitlements. According to these rules, entitlement to family benefits in one of the countries will be suspended.

However, this suspension is never total: benefits due by one country will be suspended up to the amount of the benefits due under the legislation of the country that has the priority. This means that if the amount of family benefit "suspended" is higher than the benefit provided by the country that has the priority, the country with higher benefits will have to pay a supplement corresponding to the difference between the two benefits.

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