Applying for social welfare aid through a social welfare office

In principle, any person legally residing in Luxembourg is entitled to social welfare aid to help them achieve a dignified standard of living.

Social welfare aid ensures that those in need and their families are able to gain access to products and services that are appropriate to their specific situation, so that they can gain or maintain their independence.

It is a subsidiary contribution, and can be combined with the social measures and financial benefits provided for by other laws and regulations, which the beneficiary is required to take full advantage of.

It may be palliative, curative or preventive, and accompany short-, medium- or long-term social support; if need be, this support may be supplemented by a material aid, either in kind or in cash.

To apply for social welfare aid, the person in need must approach the local social welfare office in their commune.

Who is concerned

Any person living legally in Luxembourg is entitled to social welfare aid.

However, the following are precluded from material aid in the form of cash benefits:

  • registered asylum seekers receiving support specific to their situation;
  • persons who have obtained a temporary residence permit in light of a commitment by a third party to provide for their needs;
  • foreign pupils or students who are in Luxembourg to further studies or professional training;
  • European Union nationals or nationals of another European Economic Area state or the Swiss Confederation, or family members of such people, regardless of their nationality, for the first 3 months of their stay in Luxembourg, or whilst seeking a job, if that was the purpose for their coming to the country. This exclusion does not apply to workers, whether employed or self-employed, or to people holding worker status or their family members, regardless of their nationality;
  • people in Luxembourg only on a temporary basis;
  • people in preventive custody or serving a custodial sentence, apart from during temporary release.

How to proceed

Objectives of the social welfare office

Social welfare offices are tasked with the following missions:

  • to ensure applicants understand the rights to which they are entitled under the applicable laws and regulations;
  • to explain to applicants the formalities which must be completed, given their social situation and, if required, support them in these procedures;
  • to ensure that applicants are enrolled with social security and, if not, enrol them;
  • to refer applicants to the specialist services that are best able to meet their needs;
  • to encourage applicants to take all possible steps to improve their personal situation;
  • to oversee and support applicants for social welfare aid until their individual situation stabilises;
  • as required, to establish a plan of action tailored to the beneficiary's individual situation, and help manage the their finances;
  • to work with the beneficiary to evaluate the extent to which the objectives of the action plan have been achieved;
  • to monitor and periodically update the files on the aid, benefits and interventions in applicants' cases;
  • as far as possible, to abide by guardianship rulings by the courts;
  • to provide financial or material aid, as an advance or a supplement, if the benefits provided under Luxembourg or foreign legislation are unable to cover, in a timely manner or in sufficient amounts, applicants' needs as identified by the social welfare investigation based on the available data;
  • where necessary, to arrange emergency accommodation;
  • if the person in need has no other type of insurance cover, to cover the costs of disease, handicap or age-related illnesses, including medical intervention and hospitalisation;
  • to ensure that the person in need has access to water, and at least a minimum supply of home energy if they are unable to afford supply;
  • to conduct social enquiries, and to diagnose social problems on the basis of those enquiries;
  • to coordinate and ensure the smooth running of the various actions and formalities.

In return for the social welfare aid, the social welfare office is entitled to ask for beneficiaries' active participation in the measures taken to help them recover their independence.

Procedure

Applicants may go the relevant social welfare office in person and verbally request the various forms of aid and services. Applications may also be submitted on paper or sent via email.

If the application is submitted in writing, the applicant is issued a receipt bearing an application number, and mentioning the details of the person in charge of the file and the information they will need to provide the social welfare office with for their application to be processed.

If applicants go in to the social welfare office in person, they are given assistance and referred to the relevant administrative body or department, depending on the nature of their request.

In exceptional circumstances, for reasons of reduced mobility or the applicant's specific personal circumstances, applications may be made over the phone. The staff member at the social welfare office will invite the applicant to the office, or will go to the applicant's home to process their application.

With the help of the applicant, the social welfare office fills in a form mentioning their surnames and first names, their national identification number, date of birth, address, marital status and the purpose of their application.

Applicants will be required to produce any and all documents needed for the processing of their application.

The social welfare office carries out all necessary searches to obtain as full a picture as possible of the applicant's situation and the resources at their disposal, with a view to responding appropriately to the application. To that end, social enquiries may be carried out, and additional documents may be required. The social enquiry must enable the social welfare authorities to assess the applicant's situation and put forward possible measures to improve it.

The social enquiry, the information provided by the applicant and all the supporting documents are kept in an individual social welfare file in the applicant's name.

If all the documents needed for the examination of the application are present and valid, the form is signed and dated by both parties. The applicant is informed of the formalities and of their rights.

Once recorded in the register of applications, the application is deemed to have been validly filed, and must be submitted to the administrative board of the social welfare office for consideration.

Granting of aid

The administrative board is required to provide the applicant with a well-grounded decision within 25 working days of their filing the application.

Notice of all decisions taken by the administrative board is given to the applicant by registered letter or by hand-delivered letter. In the latter case, the applicant signs for receipt.

In case of emergency, the chair or deputy chair of the administrative board of the social welfare office will immediately take the necessary decisions in light of the applicant's situation. Subsequently, a social enquiry or supporting documents may be required.

Repayment of aid received

The social welfare office may demand repayment of the financial support paid to a person who, over the period in which they received such aid, had resources at their disposal which were not taken into account, or whose fortunes improved after the aid was granted.

Appeals

If dissatisfied with the decision of the administrative board of the social welfare office, denying social welfare aid, the applicant may lodge an appeal with the Social Security Arbitration Tribunal (Conseil arbitral de la sécurité sociale – CASS).

The appeal must be filed within 40 days of receiving notice of the decision of the administrative board of the social welfare office. Appeal before the CASS do not have suspensive effect.

The appeal is made in the form of a simple petition on paper, filed at the CASS headquarters. The petition must be filed in as many copies as there are parties involved.

It must mention the last name, first name, ID number, occupation and domicile of the claimant, as well as the capacity in which the claimant is acting, the purpose of the petition, and a summary of the grounds for the appeal.

The petition must also be signed by the claimant or their legal representative or agent, who may be a representative of their professional organisation or union. If the petition is filed by a representative who is not a lawyer, the representative must prove special power of attorney.

The CASS rules in the first and last instance if the amount in dispute is less than EUR 1,250. If the amount at stake is greater than EUR 1,250, an appeal may be filed against the judgement issued by the CASS; that appeal must be brought before the High Council of Social Security (Conseil supérieur de la sécurité sociale – CSSS).

Appeals are free of charge and do not require the involvement of a lawyer. They are made in the form of a simple letter (a petition), filed with the CSSS. Appeals must be filed within 40 days of notification of the CASS' decision. The petition must mention the last names, first names, ID numbers, occupation and address of the claimant, as well as the capacity in which the claimant is acting (legal representative, guardian, etc.). It must also mention the purpose of the petition and a summary of the grounds (the arguments on which the appeal is based).

The petition must be signed either by the claimant or their legal representative or else the claimant's agent, who may be a representative of their professional organisation or union, or a lawyer. If the petition is filed by a representative who is not a lawyer, the representative must prove special power of attorney.

Final decisions handed down by the CASS, or orders by the CSSS, may be taken before the Court of Cassation (Cour de cassation). This procedure requires the involvement of a lawyer admitted to practise before the Court.

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