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PR(06)15: Liechtenstein residence requirement for helplessness allowance contrary to the Social Security Regulation


The EFTA Surveillance Authority today delivered a reasoned opinion to Liechtenstein regarding a requirement of residence in Liechtenstein for entitlement to helplessness allowance (Hilflosenentschädigung). By applying the residence requirement in cross-border EEA situations, Liechtenstein fails to fulfil its obligations under the Social Security Regulation (1408/71/EEC).

All residents in Liechtenstein who permanently require a considerable degree of surveillance or help to carry out daily tasks are entitled to helplessness allowance. Liechtenstein claims that the helplessness allowance is a special non-contributory social security benefit that, pursuant to its listing in an Annex to the Social Security Regulation, should be granted only to residents in Liechtenstein.

The European Court of Justice has held that benefits aimed at improving the state of health and quality of life of persons reliant on care are regular sickness benefits in cash under the Social Security Regulation to which present and former employees and self-employed persons in Liechtenstein are entitled. Consequently, they shall be paid to persons covered by the social security legislation of an EEA State even if they do not reside in that State.

The Authority concluded in its reasoned opinion that the Liechtenstein helplessness allowance is a regular sickness benefit in cash under the Social Security Regulation. The allowance cannot be considered as a special non-contributing benefit that can be confined to residents, because it is not based on the personal financial need of the recipient. Therefore Liechtenstein cannot require that recipients reside within Liechtenstein.

The purpose of a reasoned opinion is to give the State in question a last chance to take corrective measures before the Authority decides whether to bring the matter before the EFTA Court. Liechtenstein has been given two months to take the measures necessary to comply with the reasoned opinion.

For further information, please contact:

Mr Hallgrímur Ásgeirsson,
Director, Internal Market Affairs Directorate,
Tel. (+32)(0)2 286 1860; or

Mr Hallvard Gorseth,
Officer, Internal Market Affairs Directorate,
Tel. (+32)(0)2 286 1885

22 March 2006

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