Family Benefits

Family benefits are provided under the legislation of all Member States although they vary from one state to another. Despite these differences, the eligibility to family benefits usually depends on the economic status and place of residence, irrespective of the nationality of the family members.

Entire family living in one Member State

If the entire family lives in the same Member State, they qualify to the rights enshrined under the legislation of that state. In other words, they are entitled to the same amount of benefits as nationals.  

In the event of a posted worker who was sent to work in another country for less than 2 years, the home country remains competent for social security coverage during the period of posting. Consequently, the same Member State is responsible to pay the family benefits.

Family members living in different Member States:

The EU Coordination rules provide for priority rules to determine which country takes primary and secondary competence for paying the benefits.   The order of priority is the following:

  1. The country of employment/ self-employment
  2. The country paying the pension
  3. The country of residence

When determining competence, each Member State is guided by these criteria.  The state which is determined as primarily competent pays the full rate of benefits as applicable to nationals, whilst the state determined as secondarily competent pays the difference between the rate payable under its scheme and the rate payable by the state of primary competence.

In the event where both states are competent for paying the benefits, the state where the children reside takes priority.

Family benefits for unemployed persons

Unemployed persons and their family members are entitled to family benefits according to the legislation of the state paying the unemployment benefits.  If the family members reside in a different Member State, the priority rules shall apply.  

Family benefits for pensioners

Usually pensioners receive family benefits from the state which pays the pension. In case of entitlement to more than one pension, special rules apply.

In terms of the Maltese scheme, the following benefits are considered as Family Benefits:

When a person’s work activity has been confined to the Maltese social security scheme only, or when the periods of insurance completed in Malta are such that the eligibility criteria are satisfied, the national procedures will apply.  However, if a person’s work activity involves one or more EU Member States, the EU rules on social security coordination are applied as outlined in the following scenarios.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I am living and working in Malta with my partner and children and will soon move to another EU Member State. Will Malta continue to pay my Family Benefits?

No.  Once the whole family moves to another EU Member State, the social security scheme of the other country will become applicable, and benefits would be paid out according to the conditions set out in that scheme.

It is important to inform the Department of Social Security with the date of departure to stop the family benefits payment.  This would avoid incurring in overpaid amounts which would need to be refunded.

2. I am unemployed living in Malta with my children while my partner works on an oilrig based in The Netherlands and pays social security contributions there. Which country pays my Family Benefits?

According to the priority rules, the Member State of employment is primary competent for paying your Family Benefits, in this case The Netherlands.  Malta, as the Member State of residence takes secondary competence for the payment of the benefits.  This means that The Netherlands pays the full rate of benefits due. Subsequently, Malta compares the rate of benefit paid by The Netherlands with the amount due under its scheme and, if this is less than the amount due by The Netherlands, Malta pays the difference between the two amounts.  If the benefits paid by The Netherlands are higher than the Maltese benefits, Malta does not pay family benefits.

3. I am living and working in Malta with my children while my partner works on a Cyprus flagged vessel and pays social security contributions there. Which country pays my Family Benefits?

When there is an employment activity in two different countries, the priority rules stipulate that the Member State of residence of the children takes primary competence for the payment of the family benefits.  In this case, Malta takes primary competence whilst Cyprus takes secondary competence.  This means that Malta pays the full rate of benefits due under its scheme.  Subsequently, Cyprus compares the rate of benefit paid by Malta with the amount due under its scheme and, if this is less than the amount paid by Malta, Cyprus does not pay family benefits.  If the amount due by Cyprus is more than the amount paid by Malta, Cyprus pays the difference between the two amounts. 

4. I am unemployed living in Bulgaria with my children while my partner is living and working in Malta and pays social security contributions there. Which country pays my Family Benefits?

According to the priority rules, the Member State of employment is primary competent for paying your Family Benefits, in this case Malta.  Bulgaria, as the Member State of residence takes secondary competence for the payment of the benefits.  This means that Malta pays the full rate of benefits due.  Subsequently, Bulgaria compares the rate of benefit paid by Malta with the amount due under its scheme and, if this is less than the amount paid by Malta, Bulgaria pays the difference between the two amounts.  If the benefits paid by Malta are higher than the Bulgarian benefits, Bulgaria does not pay family benefits.

5. I am living and working in France with my children while my partner works on a Maltese flagged vessel and pays social security contributions there. Which country pays my Family Benefits?

When there is an employment activity in two different countries, the priority rules stipulate that the Member State of residence of the children takes primary competence for the payment of the family benefits.  In this case, France takes primary competence whilst Malta takes secondary competence.  This means that France pays the full rate of benefits due under its scheme.  Subsequently, Malta compares the rate of benefit paid by France with the amount due under its scheme and, if this is less than the amount paid by France, Malta does not pay family benefits.  If the amount due by Malta is more than the amount paid by France, Malta pays the difference between the two amounts. 

6. I receive a Maltese pension and live in Germany with my family while my partner works in Luxembourg and pays social security contributions there. Which country pays my Family Benefits?

The priority rules stipulate that the MS of employment takes primary competence for the payment of the family benefits whilst the MS paying the pension takes secondary competence.  In this case, Luxembourg takes primary competence whilst Malta takes secondary competence.  This means that Luxembourg pays the full rate of benefits due under its scheme.  Subsequently, Malta compares the rate of benefit paid by Luxembourg with the amount due under its scheme and, if this is less than the amount paid by Luxembourg, Malta does not pay family benefits.  If the amount due by Malta is more than the amount paid by Luxembourg, Malta pays the difference between the two amounts.

7. My partner and I live in Malta with our children and are both unemployed. Which country pays my Family Benefits?

In this scenario, given that the family is confined into a single Member State, there is no cross-border element and therefore the EU rules are not applicable.  This case would be treated in accordance with national provisions.