Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Finland - Social assistance

When can I apply for social assistance?

Social assistance (toimeentulotuki) is a last-resort form of income security for one person or family, granted by Kela.

Kela decides on claims for basic social assistance. Minor parts of social assistance, supplementary assistance and preventive social assistance are administered by municipalities.

When will the social assistance be paid?

The assistance is the amount by which the client's eligible expenses exceed their income and assets.

The social assistance basic amount and expenses that it is intended to cover are prescribed by law. With the basic amount the client should cover food, clothing, minor health care costs, expenses for personal hygiene and cleanliness of the home, use of local transport, and subscription to a newspaper, telecommunications, use of a telephone, and hobby and recreational pursuits.

In addition to the basic amount, basic social assistance is granted by Kela for housing costs, such as rent or maintenance charges, water rates, heating, electricity bills and home insurance premiums as well as health care costs that are higher than minor costs (e.g. prescription medicines).

Supplementary social assistance can be granted by the municipality for expenses such as additional housing expenses or costs incurred by special needs or circumstances.

The municipalities also grant preventive social assistance, the grounds for which are decided by the municipalities themselves. The purpose of preventive social assistance is to promote independent living as well as to prevent social exclusion.

The right to claim social assistance comes about when a person is unable to make a living through paid work, self-employment or other benefits, or from other income or assets, by being cared for by persons liable to provide them with maintenance, or in some other way.

The basic amount can be reduced if the person has refused an offer of work, labour market support measures, training or measures promoting the integration of immigrants and which has led to the need for social assistance.

How do I apply for social assistance?

You can apply for social assistance via Kela and after receiving decision from Kela through the social services office of your municipality. In urgent cases, it is also possible to apply for social assistance at Kela and the social services office of your temporary municipality of residence.

The decision on social assistance must be given at the latest on the seventh weekday from receipt of the application. The decision will be made on the basis of need, income, available assets and expenses, social situation and an interview. The applicant must, if they so wish, be given the opportunity to discuss their case with a Kela officer and the municipality's social worker or social advisor.

Jargon busters

Kela: Finnish Social Insurance Institution.

Know your rights

More information about the rights guaranteed to you by law can be found via the links below. The websites are not maintained by the European Commission and they do not represent the Commission's views.

The Commission's publication and website:


Contact details

Contact the social services of your home municipality. In urgent cases, you can also contact the social services office of your temporary municipality of residence.

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