Social benefits before social assistance

Social benefits before social assistance are means-tested social benefits for poverty reduction that belong to social assistance in the broader sense. According to the principle of subsidiarity they precede economic social assistance (or social assistance in the narrow sense). They comply with the principle of purpose - i.e. a need must be proven - and they are entirely or partially governed and funded by the cantons.

Some social benefits are present in all cantons while others are restricted to certain cantons. Consequently each canton has its own way of guaranteeing the subsistence of its inhabitants. The inventory of social assistance in a broader sense gives an overview of the support provided by each canton.

Indicators about means-tested social benefits for poverty reduction
Indicator   Year
Ratio of supplementary benefit recipients among all AVS/AHV/IV/AI beneficiaries 16.4% 2022
Share of supplementary benefit recipients in homes 19.0% 2022
Advance alimony payment recipients in Switzerland 45 600 2022
Ratio of advance alimony payment recipients in Switzerland 0.52% 2022
Sources: FSO, Statistics on social assistance recipients, 2023; FSIO, Supplementary benefits statistics, 2023

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Maintenance advances

Children entitled to maintenance receive advance maintenance payments if the parent obliged to pay maintenance fails to make payments or does not make them in full or on time.

Supplementary Benefits

Supplementary benefits may be claimed when old-age or invalidity pensions and other income are not sufficient to meet minimal living costs. They are given to people living in Switzerland.


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