Thousands of pensioners are not claiming top-up pension benefits

Underpayment is a common problem. Photo:

Tens of thousands of pensioners are failing to claim a top-up to their state pensions and are therefore living below the poverty line, the government’s audit office said in a new report.

Between 48% and 56% of pensioners entitled to the benefit are failing to claim – or up to 51,000 households – the audit office said. In total, some 3.5 million people in the Netherlands are claiming state pension, or AOW.

To qualify for a full state pension, people must have lived in the Netherlands for 50 years. This means that Dutch nationals who spent time abroad, or immigrants who moved to the Netherlands past the age of 16 or 17 will not be entitled to the full amount.

The report also shows that immigrants account for the majority of people who are not claiming the top-up benefit, although the ethnic Dutch account for the biggest population group.

The benefit, known as AOI, is available to people with no or little alternative income, with few savings and no more than €50,000 in excess value in any property they own. It is administered by the social insurance bank SVB.

The lack of take-up comes because many people are unaware the benefit exists – the SVB does not alert people entitled to claim. Language problems and admin skills are additional problems, the audit office said.

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