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According to a study just published by the European Commission in most EU countries, EU citizens from other Member States use welfare benefits no more intensively than the host country's nationals. Mobile EU citizens are less likely to receive disability and unemployment benefits in most countries studied.
The European Commission has referred Slovakia to the EU's Court of Justice for refusing to pay an old-age benefit, a so called Christmas allowance, to pensioners living in other EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland in breach of its obligations under EU law on social security coordination.
Under EU law, entitlement to an old-age benefit cannot be conditional on a pensioner living in another Member State where he or she claims the benefit. This rule enables pensioners to move to another Member State when they retire whilst retaining their pension.
Slovak legislation provides that all persons who receive a statutory pension, or pensions below 60 % of average wages in Slovakia, are entitled to a Christmas allowance ('vianočný príspevok'). However, this benefit is not provided to pensioners living outside Slovakia. As a consequence, pensioners receiving Slovak statutory pensions who live in another Member State are at a disadvantage compared to pensioners who have not left Slovakia.
As the purpose of the Christmas bonus is to compensate for increased living costs incurred by pensioners, the allowance qualifies as an old-age benefit under EU social security coordination rules as interpreted by the EU's Court of Justice.