Social security: EU takes action to guarantee care benefits for Britons abroad

The European Commission has sent a formal request to the United Kingdom to pay care benefits to Britons – often pensioners – residing abroad in accordance with its obligations under EU law. Under EU rules, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance are considered ‘sickness cash benefits’, which UK citizens resident in another EU country are also entitled to receive. The UK authorities now have two months to respond to the request, which takes the form of a ‘reasoned opinion’ under EU infringement procedures. In the absence of a satisfactory response from the UK authorities, the Commission may refer the matter to the EU’s Court of Justice. The right to live and work in any other European country is a fundamental right of the EU. As part of this, the EU guarantees people the right to social security coverage if they move elsewhere in Europe. In the UK system, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Career’s Allowance are benefits which provide protection for people in need of personal care and people who look after them. Under EU rules on coordination of social security, UK citizens are entitled to receive these benefits when they are resident in another EU country. However, in some cases, and contrary to the principle of free movement, the UK applies conditions on residence for the three benefits. In particular, among other requirements, the benefits can be conditional on the claimant having spent 26 of the previous 52 weeks in the UK (past presence test). This effectively contravenes the provisions of the EU system for coordinating social security benefits and infringes the rights of citizens living in another EU country. Background The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled (in case C-299/05 on 18 October 2007) that Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Career’s Allowance count as sickness cash benefits. They are therefore exportable according to EU provisions on coordination of social security (EU Regulation 1408/71 and Regulation 883/04). Further information Your social security rights in the EU http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.

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