Social assistance in Denmark
If you are legally resident in Denmark and cannot support yourself, you may be entitled to benefits from your municipality. The benefits you may be entitled to will depend, amongst other things, on your age, your education and how long you have lived in the country.
What general conditions do you need to meet?
In order to be eligible for assistance, you must meet the following conditions:
- You must have experienced an event such as illness, unemployment or the termination of cohabitation.
- This event has deprived you of the possibility of providing what is needed for yourself or your family, and you are not supported by others.
- Your need for support cannot be covered by other benefits, such as unemployment benefits or a pension.
You should be aware that there is an upper limit on how much you can receive in total if you receive one of the above benefits and at the same time receive special support and/or housing allowance. For more information on this, see below under “Cash benefits ceiling”. There are also requirements for employment. See the sections “Cash benefits ceiling” and “Requirements for employment (225-hour rule)” below.
What benefits can you receive?
If you have resided in Denmark for 9 of the last 10 years, or if you are a citizen of an EU or EEA country and are covered by the rules of EU law, you can apply for cash benefits or a student grant.
- Cash benefits (kontanthjælp): If you are over 30
- Cash benefits at youth rate (kontanthjælp på ungesats): If you are under 30 and have a qualifying vocational education
- Student grant (uddannelseshjælp): If you are under 30 and do not have a qualifying vocational education
If you have not resided in Denmark for 9 of the last 10 years and you are not covered by the rules of EU law, you can apply for self-sufficiency and return benefit or transition benefit. This was formerly known as ‘integration benefit’. You must meet the same conditions for receiving self-sufficiency and return benefit or transition benefit as for cash benefits or a student grant.
If you are a Danish citizen and have resided in another EU/EEA country for more than a year and need help from the public authorities on returning home, special rules apply. You can read about these rules (in Danish) in “Information letter to the municipalities of 24 November 2016”.
How to apply
You can apply for benefits via self-service at borger.dk or in your municipality. Further information about conditions and rates, etc., is available (in Danish) at borger.dk.
No later than one week after you have first approached the municipality for help, you will be called to your first interview, at which the job centre will assess whether you are job-ready or activity-ready.
If the job centre assesses that you will be able to work within a short period of time, you are deemed job-ready and must be available for the labour market. If the job centre assesses that you are not able to work within a short period of time, you are deemed activity-ready.
Cash benefits ceiling
There is a limit on how much you can receive in total each month if you are in receipt of a student grant, cash benefits, self-sufficiency and return benefit, or transition benefit, and at the same time receive special support or housing allowance.
This limit is called the “cash benefits ceiling”. Your student grant, cash benefits, self-sufficiency and return allowance or transition benefit will not be reduced as a result of the cash benefit ceiling, but you may be paid less in special support and housing allowance.
If you do not receive special support and there is no one in your household who receives housing allowance, the cash benefit ceiling will not affect what you can receive.
How much you can receive in total support depends on your age, whether you are a breadwinner, married/cohabiting or single. The size of the amount also depends on the size of your student grant, cash benefits, self-sufficiency and return benefit or transition benefit.
Requirements for employment (225-hour rule)
In order to receive full cash benefits, a student grant, self-sufficiency and return benefit or transition benefit it is a requirement that you have been in work for a certain period.
If you are single, the rule means that the assistance to you will be reduced if you have received assistance for a total of one year or more within three years, and you have not had at least 225 hours of ordinary and unsupported work within the past 12 calendar months.
If you are married, the rule means that the assistance to you or your spouse will end or be reduced if as a couple you have received assistance for a total of one year or more within three years, and you have not each had at least 225 hours of ordinary and unsupported work within the past 12 calendar months.
If you are not a Danish citizen and need cash benefits, a student grant, self-sufficiency and return benefits or transition benefits for more than half a year, the Danish Immigration Service may decide that you must be repatriated.
If you are covered by the Nordic Convention on Social Assistance and Social Services, you cannot be repatriated if you have lived in Denmark for more than three years.
The rules are found in the Executive Order of the Act on Active Social Policy.
Who should you contact if you have questions?
If you have any questions about this, you can contact your municipality.
If you have any questions, please fill in our contact form.
NB! If you have questions regarding the processing of a specific case or application, or other personal matters, please contact the relevant authority directly.