Further step towards unhindered cross-border pension provision
On 18 September Dutch Minister Koolmees answered parliamentary questions about the possibility for pensioners abroad to pass on their proof of life via an app. This concerns a case in which ITEM, together with Pascalle Pechholt (Advisor on Frontier Work for the MEP Jeroen Lenaers), has worked on in favour of persons receiving pension benefits abroad. The current approach responds to earlier ITEM recommendations and sets the stage for the unhindered enjoyment of cross-border pension payments.
File exchange with foreign sister organisations: life certificate no longer a necessity
The Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB) aims to ensure that in time a large proportion of Dutch AOW/Anw beneficiaries living abroad will no longer have to submit an annual life certificate. To this end, the SVB is setting up a file exchange with foreign sister organisations. In cases where these exchanges are sufficiently stable and actualised, the client does not have to prove that he or she is alive. As a result, the obligation to submit the proof of life for persons residing in these countries concerned is abolished. Exchanges of data with, for example, Germany are already taking place and further emphasis is being placed on countries where many Dutch AOW/Anw beneficiaries live, such as Belgium and Spain.
Remaining clients can give proof via paper or via app
This is something that ITEM has fought for in the past. The SVB expects to be able to achieve this for 70% of AOW/Anw beneficiaries living abroad. For the remaining clients, the SVB will continue with the periodic paper proof of life, with the option of using the app instead of the paper proof in due course. Incidentally, the latter applies worldwide. It is to be applauded that the development of the data exchange is being intensively pursued with countries with which there is a lot of employee traffic from the Netherlands. Incidentally, the possibility remains for pensioners to use a paper form. In addition, customers who are unable or unwilling to use the app can continue to use the paper proof of life.
Register of Non-residents automatically linked to sister organisations
With regard to the Register of Non-Residents (RNI), the Minister replied that the RNI is also automatically notified of being alive on the basis of the verified proof of life received and (recently) the comparison of the file with the sister organisations. The RNI is part of the Basic Registration of Persons (BRP) and registers persons who do not live in the Netherlands but have a connection with the Netherlands; they receive a Dutch statutory pension, for example.
Pension funds belong to the group of third parties that can receive systematic information from the BRP, including the RNI. Incidentally, all death notifications received by the SVB, for example by means of the life certificate or the file comparison, are already passed on to the RNI. As stated by ITEM, pension funds do not have to ask for a life certificate again and beneficiaries living abroad - who receive an AOW or Anw in addition to their supplementary pension - only have to submit a life certificate once. This means administrative relief for this non-resident pensioner.
Another obstacle towards a European single market removed
The Minister's answers, in response to Parliamentary questions, testify to constructive solutions aimed at cross-border bottlenecks. The current approach is an effective way forward towards the unhindered enjoyment of cross-border pension payments. The challenge now is to give the pension sector time to further implement and refine these solutions so that the practice of providing evidence of being alive is more in line with the idea of the European single market and thus to remove obstacles of this kind.
Author: Sander Kramer, researcher and PhD candidate at Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and Mobility / ITEM