The topic of paying pensions to Ukrainian citizens in Poland has come alive again in public and online discussions. Confederation MP Stanisław Tyszka argued in a TV studio that a Ukrainian should not receive our minimum pension “after one day of work in Poland.” I do not get. We explain what the manipulation in this message is.
The “Kawa na ławę” program on TVN24 on September 18 was dominated by the visa scandal, issues related to migrants, refugees and the benefits they receive in Poland. Confederation MP Stanisław Tyszka talked about the Responsible Migration Policy Pact, which was announced by the Confederation in early July 2023. It includes, among other things, the demand to “liquidate pension privileges for foreigners.”
“We are talking about the need to abolish social assistance for immigrants,” Tyszka argued in the program. He added that the 500 plus benefit paid to Ukrainian children should be withdrawn. “Why should Poles and Polish women pay?” – He was asking. “We are the only country in Europe, and even in the world, that has equalized non-citizens with citizens on such a scale. The Confederation says this: there should be no 500 – and immediately 800 plus – for people who do not have Polish citizenship. There should be no Polish minimum pension after one day of work in Poland” – MP Tyszka perorated.
Ukrainians receiving a Polish pension after working just one day in Poland has been a popular message on social media for months. IN We described on Konkret24 what the distortion regarding pensions is, but it is still publicized in various forms. For example, in June this year, the head of the Confederation, Sławomir Mentzen, said: “If a Ukrainian works in Poland for at least one day and acquires the right to a pension in Ukraine, he will receive a Polish pension from ZUS.”
We explain once again what information is missing in this publicized message and what rules apply to Ukrainian citizens.
Pension for Ukrainian citizens: no new law
There are no new decisions or regulations on the basis of which pensions are granted to Ukrainian citizens residing in Poland. The legal basis remains the bilateral social security agreement from 2012. It protects people who work or have worked in both countries. The agreement assumes that when determining the right to a pension, insurance periods in the other country are also taken into account. Therefore, Poland recognizes the years worked by Ukrainians in Ukraine to determine pension rights – and vice versa. Pensions from Poland and Ukraine are due after meeting the conditions for granting these benefits in each country.
Already in April 2023, the Social Insurance Institution denied the alleged ease of access to Polish pension benefits for Ukrainian citizens. “This type of information is misleading,” he said statement.
Requirements that a Ukrainian citizen must meet to receive a Polish pension benefit from ZUS:
– Suitable age: 60 years for women and 65 for men. – Paying contributions (social security or pension insurance and disability insurance) in Poland, i.e. legal employment, e.g. as an employee, contractor or as a person who conducted non-agricultural activities. – In the case of people born before January 1, 1949, work experience is also required – at least 20 years for women and 25 years for men. If such long service cannot be documented, a pension will be granted if the service is at least 15 years for women and 20 years for men.
Not a pension, just an allowance. You have to live in Poland
The essence of the message being spread – which was repeated by MP Tyszka – is the alleged ease of obtaining a Polish pension benefit. A citizen of Ukraine can supposedly come to Poland for just one day of work, return to Ukraine and already enjoy the Polish minimum pension.
It is true that in Poland it is enough to pay one contribution to obtain the right to any pension benefit, even a very low one. Poland has some of the more liberal regulations in this area. As the portal explained Money.pl: “To be able to apply for a German pension (which is not tantamount to receiving it), you must pay insurance contributions across the Oder for at least 5 years. In the Netherlands, the regulations stipulate a minimum of one year of paying contributions, which entitles you to a pension there, but only fractional. For each year of work, you are entitled to only 2% of the basic pension. In Great Britain, on the other hand, working for only 10 years gives you the right to a pension.
However, it is untrue that pensions for Ukrainian citizens are paid in full by the Polish Social Insurance Institution. It pays benefits in proportion to the length of insurance periods in Poland, and its Ukrainian equivalent – for the time worked in Ukraine. Polish pensions can only be granted for insurance periods completed in Poland. Therefore, the shorter the length of service in Poland, the smaller the pension from ZUS – e.g. after a month or a day of work it will be symbolic.
If the sum of benefits from the Polish ZUS and the Ukrainian equivalent is lower than the minimum Polish pension, the difference is paid by the Polish ZUS as a supplement. So, for example, if the pension from Ukraine is PLN 300 and from Poland – PLN 100, the Polish ZUS will pay an additional PLN 1,188.44 to the minimum Polish pension (currently it is PLN 1,588.44). This no longer results from the Polish-Ukrainian agreement. ZUS applies in this respect – in accordance with the principle of equal treatment – identical regulations as to all other persons entitled to Polish pensions under Polish internal regulations, regardless of the citizenship of these persons.
In popular communication, the minimum pension is therefore confused with a supplement to the minimum pension. What’s more: to receive it, you must meet a number of conditions.
Requirements that a citizen of Ukraine must meet to receive a supplement to the minimum pension:
– The right to a pension for foreigners (i.e. required age, payment of contributions in Poland, as well as appropriate length of service – 20 years for women and 25 for men). – Permanent residence in Poland. – The right to stay legally on the basis of a document issued by the office for foreigners or on the basis of the legality of stay obtained through entry in the Border Guard register.
Therefore, you cannot leave Poland for Ukraine after working for us for a day and already receive the benefit. When leaving Poland, a Ukrainian citizen loses the right to supplement the minimum pension. ZUS ensures that both at the stage of submitting the benefit application and in the period of its payment, it checks whether a given Ukrainian citizen lives in Poland. For this purpose, among other things, it cooperates with its counterpart in Ukraine, the Pension Fund of Ukraine. “Beneficiaries (as taxpayers) are legally obliged to notify ZUS about any change of address. If such information is concealed, the interested person must take into account legal consequences from ZUS, including initiation of proceedings for the refund of unduly received benefits, including enforcement proceedings, and with criminal liability,” ZUS wrote in a statement.
Only 1,170 Ukrainians download the add-on
As ZUS spokesman Paweł Żebrowski informed us, as of June 2023, 1,170 Ukrainian citizens living in Poland receive a supplement to the minimum pensions. He gave us the same number in April – so there was no increase. In 2022, 1,205 Ukrainian citizens living in our country received a supplement to the minimum pension, and in 2021 – 1,215. “The decreasing scale of subsidies results, among other things, from the fact that Ukrainians take up employment in Poland. Earning income from work or running a business in an amount exceeding the amount of the subsidy means that a given person is not entitled to the minimum subsidy. The second reason for the decreasing scale of subsidies is related to the departures of Ukrainian citizens from Poland,” the ZUS spokesman explained to Konkret24.
To sum up: in order for a Ukrainian citizen residing in Poland to receive a supplement to the minimum pension (and not the minimum pension), he or she must meet a number of conditions, including having the required age, work experience and living in Poland. Contrary to popular belief on the Internet, just one day of work in Poland is not enough. Moreover, Polish ZUS does not pay benefits for contribution periods from Ukraine.
Main photo source: Andrzej Lange/PAP