Disabled refugee’s child benefit can be paid abroad, court rules

The Federal Court said that in the case under discussion international law supersedes Swiss law Keystone

A recognised refugee receiving disability insurance in Switzerland is entitled to claim disabled people’s child benefit, even if their children do not live in Switzerland, the Federal Court has ruled.

This content was published on February 14, 2020 - 12:40

The Geneva ConventionExternal link on refugees, ratified by Switzerland, states that recognised refugees should be treated the same as Swiss citizens when it comes to social security issues, the courtExternal link said in a ruling made public on FridayExternal link.

There is a federal decree that says children of refugees should be living in Switzerland to receive child benefit. But the children of Swiss citizens are not subject to this decision, therefore the decree goes against the Geneva Refugee Convention. In this case international law supersedes Swiss law. Where the children are living and their nationality should not be an issue for child benefit, the court said.

The case concerned a man from Chad who was recognised as a refugee by Switzerland in 1994 and who has been receiving disability insurance since 2005. When he requested disabled people’s child benefit for his two daughters living in France with their mother, to whom he is not married, the authorities in Bern refused. The reason: the children had Chadian nationality and were living abroad.

The man went through the courts for his claim, ending up at Switzerland’s highest court. This has now sent the claim back to the relevant authorities in Bern.

Officials now have to look into whether all the conditions for issuing child benefit have been met, including whether the recognition of paternity issued in France is valid in Switzerland.


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