Beneficiaries of international protection have access to all types of social assistance envisaged by the law. The law foresees the same conditions for nationals, recognised refugees or subsidiary protection holders.
In practice, however, some types of the social assistance cannot be enjoyed by beneficiaries of international protection without additional special arrangements (e.g. interpretation, social mediation), which are not envisaged or secured to them by law or institutionally.
The Agency for Social Assistance (Агенция за социално подпомагане, ASA) of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy is the authority responsible for the provision of all types of social assistance available nationally. The ASA has territorial units in every district and municipality in Bulgaria.
The provision of social welfare is not tied to a requirement to reside in a specific place or region. However, social assistance can be requested only from the ASA territorial unit where the beneficiary has his or her registered residence and formal address registration.
In practice, the residence requirement creates great obstacle for beneficiaries who had their domicile registered in the location of the reception centre where they were accommodated during the status determination in order to speed up issue of identity documents, until this was no longer allowed by the SAR (see Civil Registration). If beneficiaries opt to move and settle in another location, they must not only re-register their new permanent domicile – and on that basis re-issue their identity documents – but they still will not be able to immediately access social assistance services or available support, as many are also conditioned on residence in the respective municipality for certain period of time.
In addition, the overwhelming red tape and other formalities related to the submission of social assistance applications are difficult to overcome even for nationals and almost impossible for beneficiaries of international protection, unless supported by tailored mediation or assistance. Such kind of assistance, however, is provided entirely by NGOs of grassroots support groups and is therefore not always available.