Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Switzerland - Social assistance

In what situation can I claim?

The federal constitution of the Swiss confederation lays down the right to obtain assistance in situations of need in order to lead a dignified human existence. Social assistance, the last safety net of social protection, comes under the responsibility of the 26 cantons. Its implementation is generally delegated to the municipalities.

However, the Swiss conference of social action institutions (CSIAS) recommendations contribute to a certain level of harmonisation for these benefits. These can be applied by the cantons. The benefits recommended by the CSIAS are in particular as follows:

  • Lump sum for subsistence: benefits to cover your everyday life expenses (food, clothing, transportation ...) if you are part of a low-income household. Your housing costs are paid separately.
  • Integration supplement: this benefit – of an incentive nature – may be paid if you are not working and you make special efforts of social and professional integration.

Furthermore, benefits based on your circumstances may be paid to you by your canton depending on your state of heath or your economic and family situation (costs related to the integration and care of children and young people, leaving the municipality, holidays, etc.).

For information about the benefits in each canton, please refer to the list and financial statistics of social assistance in a wider sense.

What conditions do I need to meet?

In general, social assistance benefits are means-tested. As they are financed by taxes, they are not dependent on whether or not you have paid contributions.

Lump sum for subsistence

This benefit is for people in need living in Switzerland in a private household and who are capable of keeping it.

Integration supplement

This benefit is for people in need who are not in paid employment and are at least 16 years old, and who are making a particular effort to integrate socially and/or professionally for themselves or on behalf of their relatives.

What am I entitled to and how can I claim?

Lump sum for subsistence

It must cover your basic needs in order to guarantee a dignified human existence (food and drink, clothes and shoes, energy consumption, transport, communications, leisure, personal care, personal equipment, purchase of standard small items, etc.).

The amount of the lump sum is determined by the cantons depending on the number of people in the household.

Each year, the CSIAS publishes the recommended amounts:

No. of people in the household

Lump sum per household/month (from 2017)

1 person

CHF 986 (EUR 841)

2 people

CHF 1,509 (EUR 1,287)

3 people

CHF 1,834 (EUR 1,565)

4 people

CHF 2,110 (EUR 1,800)

5 people

CHF 2,386 (EUR 2,036)

Additional person

+ CHF 200 (EUR 171)

Specific conditions apply to young adults (between 18 and 25 years).

Your housing costs are not included in the lump sum for subsistence. Rent (or mortgage payments for people owning their own home) is covered separately.

Integration supplement

Amount generally paid

between CHF 100 and CHF 300 (EUR 85 to 256) per person and per month

The amount of the integration supplement is fixed by the social assistance services according to the effort made and the importance of the social integration activity.

Know your rights

The following links provide additional information about your rights. They are not European Commission sites and do not represent the view of the Commission:

European Commission publications:

Who do you need to contact?

Cantonal and municipal services for social assistance

Applications for social assistance benefits are submitted to the cantonal and municipal services for social assistance.

Refer to the directory of cantonal and municipal authorities.

Swiss conference of social action institutions (CSIAS)

Monbijoustrasse 22

Case postale

3000 Berne 14

Tel. +41 313261919

Fax +41 313261910

admin@skos.ch

www.csias.ch

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