Surinamese retirees are not entitled to compensation for pension gap

Underpayment is a common problem. Photo:

Tens of thousands of Surinamese pensioners have been told they are not entitled to financial compensation for the shortfall in their pensions because Suriname was not considered part of the kingdom of the Netherlands when state pension legislation was introduced, the Council of State has said.

To qualify for a full state pension, immigrants must have lived in the Netherlands for 50 years, and that means thousands of people who moved here from Suriname have a pension gap.

Technically, people who lived in Suriname between the launch of the state pension system (AOW) in 1956 and independence in 1975 were living in part of the Netherlands, but not for pension purposes, the Council of State said.

Last year, MPs voted in favour of a motion calling for compensation for the group, and a government commission made a similar recommendation.

Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees then asked the Council of State, the highest Dutch authority on administrative matters, for its opinion.

The pension age is being increased in stages from 65 to 67. When the increase is fully implemented, an immigrant must have been in the country since the age of 17 to qualify for the same AOW as a native Dutch person who has never lived abroad.

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