The law provides access to social welfare for beneficiaries of international protection without drawing any distinction between refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. Beneficiaries of international protection should enjoy the same rights and receive the necessary social assistance according to the terms that apply to nationals, without discrimination.
Types of social benefits
Not all beneficiaries have access to social rights and welfare benefits. In practice, difficulties in access to rights stem from bureaucratic barriers, which make no provision to accommodate the inability of beneficiaries to submit certain documents such as family status documents, birth certificates or diplomas, or even the refusal of civil servants to grant them the benefits provided, contrary to the principle of equal treatment as provided by Greek and EU law.
Family allowance: The family allowance is provided to families that can demonstrate 10 years of permanent and uninterrupted stay in Greece. As a result, the majority of beneficiaries of international protection are excluded from this benefit.
Single mother allowance: Allowance to single mothers is provided to those who can provide proof of their family situation e.g. divorce, death certificate, birth certificate. With no access to the authorities of their country, many mothers are excluded because they cannot provide the necessary documents.
Single child allowance: The single child support allowance replaced the pre-existing family allowances and is provided explicitly to refugees or beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.
Birth allowance: The newly established birth allowance is granted to the mother who is legally and permanently residing in Greece and amounts to €2,000 for every child born in Greece. Third country nationals are entitled to receive this allowance if they can demonstrate 12 years of permanent stay in Greece. Exceptionally for the births that will take place in the years 2020-2023 the allowance will be granted to the mother – third country national, if she has been permanently residing in Greece since 2012. The permanent stay is proved with the submission of tax declarations. Hence, the vast majority of beneficiaries of international protection are practically excluded from this benefit.
Student allowance: Furthermore, beneficiaries of international protection are excluded by law from the social allowance granted to students, which amounts to €1,000 annually. According to the law, this allowance is provided only to Greek nationals and EU citizens.
Disability benefits: Beneficiaries of international protection with disabilities also face great difficulties in their efforts to access welfare benefits. First they have to be examined by the Disability Accreditation Centre to assess whether their disability is at a level above 67%, in order to be eligible for the Severe Disability Allowance. Even if this is successfully done, there are often significant delays in the procedure.
KEA: Since February 2017, the Social Solidarity Income (Κοινωνικό Επίδομα Αλληλεγγύης, KEA) is established as a new welfare programme regulated by Law 4389/2016. This income of €200 per month for each household, plus €100 per month for each additional adult of the household and €50 per month for each additional child of the household, was intended to temporarily support people who live below the poverty line in the current humanitarian crisis, including beneficiaries of international protection.
KEA is granted based on the following criteria: family status and family members; income; and assets. It is described as a solidarity programme connected to supplementary services, such as access to social services that may provide cheaper electricity or water.
However, the preconditions are difficult to meet. In order to receive KEA:
- Each member of the household must obtain a Tax Registration Number (AFM), a Social Security Number (AMKA) and a bank account;
- Each household must legally and permanently reside in Greece;
- The following documents are required to prove their residence: (a) for residence in owner-occupied property, a contract certifying ownership and utility bills for state-owned enterprises; (b) for residence in rented property, a copy of the electronic lease agreement, plus utility bills; (c) for residence in a property based on free concession, the concession agreement and bills for state-owned enterprises. In case of homelessness, homeless applicants are required to submit a homelessness certificate issued by the municipality or by shelter or a day-centre. It is obviously almost impossible for homeless beneficiaries to provide all of these documents, meaning that they cannot apply for the allowance.
Unfortunately, except for KEA, there are no other effective allowances in practice. There is no provision of state social support for vulnerable cases of beneficiaries such as victims of torture. The only psychosocial and legal support addressed to the identification and rehabilitation of torture victims in Greece is offered by three NGOs, GCR, Day Centre Babel and MSF, which means that the continuity of the programme depends on funding.
Uninsured retiree benefit: Finally, retired beneficiaries of international protection, in principle have the right to the Social Solidarity Benefit of
Uninsured Retirees. However, the requirement of 15 years of permanent residence in Greece in practice excludes from this benefit seniors who are newly recognised beneficiaries. The period spent in Greece as an asylum seeker is not calculated towards the 15-year period, since legally the application for international protection is not considered as a residence permit.
The granting of social assistance is not conditioned on residence in a specific place
 Articles 29 and 30 PD 141/2013 ανδ Λ. 4636/2019.
 Pro Asyl and Refugee Support Aegean, Rights and effective protection exist only on paper: The precarious existence of beneficiaries of international protection in Greece, 30 June 2017, 22-24; ELIAMEP, Refugee Integration in Mainland Greece: Prospects and Challenges, March 2018, 4-5.
 Article 214 L. 4512/2018, as amended by Article 15 L. 4659/2020.
 Articles 1 and 7 L. 4659/2020.
Article 10 L 3220/2004.
 Article 93 L 4387/2016.