In general, the law provides access to social welfare for beneficiaries of international protection and does not make any distinction between refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries. Therefore, beneficiaries of international protection are entitled to attendance of persons in active and retired age, limited public health care and unemployment benefit, amongst other entitlements e.g. family allowances, sickness and maternity benefits. Social welfare is provided to beneficiaries under the same conditions and on the same level as for nationals.
Nevertheless, there are several forms of social assistance offered by the local government, which require the beneficiary to have already a certain number of years of established domicile. The rules set out by local governments can vary. For example, pursuant to decrees of local governments only those people who have been residing for certain years in the area of the local government are able to justify it with an address card are entitled to apply for social housing provided by local governments. Obviously, beneficiaries of international protection cannot comply with the requirement right after they get out of the reception facilities. Furthermore, job seekers’ benefit requires at least 365 days of coverage (being employed or self-employed) in the last three years that is hardly the case for beneficiaries of international protection right after receiving protection. Social assistance is provided by either the competent district government office or the local governments.
As to managing social welfare issues, difficulties mainly stem from the general slowness and tardiness of the administration system and from the language barriers owing to the lack of interpreter provided to refugees or persons with subsidiary protection at place.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many became unemployed (see section on Access to the labour market). The unemployment benefit is available for a maximum of 90 days (equals to the amount of 60% of the last payment). The application form for unemployment benefit, available only in Hungarian, is not easy to fill in, therefore people in need must have requested the help of NGOs, such as Kalunba with that. The latter distributed food packages on a daily basis for around 30 people.