Social assistance, or income support, is a last-resort form of financial assistance which covers some of the basic necessities of life. Social assistance is intended to be a source of short-term financial aid that helps recipients overcome or avoid temporary difficulties and promotes their autonomy and independence.
Who can get social assistance? If all your income and assets do not cover your essential daily expenses, such as housing, food, medical care and clothing, you can apply for basic social assistance from Kela. Other social security benefits are counted as income. Before applying for basic social assistance you must first consider all other sources of income that could be available to you, and find out if you are entitled to social security benefits such as unemployment or housing allowances. First apply for all other benefits to which you are entitled.
If needed, when you have other unexpected expenses, you can also apply for supplementary or preventive (täydentävä ja ehkäisevä toimeentulotuki) income support at your local social services. However, in order to receive supplementary income support, you must first receive a positive decision on Kela’s social assistance. Ask your local social services for more information.
HOW TO APPLY FOR SOCIAL ASSISTANCE
You can apply for social assistance via Kela’s e-service at www.kela.fi/asiointi (in Finnish) or www.fpa.fi/etjanst (in Swedish). If you find it difficult to use the e-service, you can get advice on how to use it at one of Kela’s customer service points. You can also apply for social assistance on a paper form or even by phone. Our address is Kela, PL 10, 00056 KELA.
Remember to enclose all necessary documentation!
Most common documentation:
- bank statements
- electricity bill
- home insurance bill
- public health bills
If you apply for the first time, you need to attach bank statements from the previous 2 months.
HOW FAST WILL YOU RECEIVE THE DECISION?
When you submit an application, Kela will process it within seven working days. If your application is urgent, you will receive a decision no later than on the following working day. If your application is incomplete, Kela will send you a clarification request. This will prolong the processing time until you submit the required information. If you fail to submit the required documents during the given time, Kela will process the application without the documents.
You will receive the decision in writing.
If you are not satisfied with the decision, you can appeal. The decision explains how you can appeal.
More information on social assistance:
Social assistance in brief – brochure (pdf)
Social assistance – Kela website
Social assistance – Kela’s brochure in easy Finnish (pdf)
Kela – in easy Finnish