Family allowances are both a social security and family policy matter. The purpose of these benefits is to partially compensate for the costs of raising children. There are three types of family allowance: child’s allowance, education allowance and birth/adoption allowance.
“One child, one allowance”
The family allowance scheme operates according to the “one child, one allowance” principle. What this means in terms of social security cover is that only one allowance will be issued per child. If several individuals are simultaneously entitled to claim family allowances for the same child (“concurring claims”), the decision on who will receive these benefits is made based on a pre-defined order of precedence. Moreover, the Family Allowances Register was set up to prevent the accumulation of family allowances.
In terms of family policy, the “one child, one allowance” principle reflects the goal of guaranteeing one allowance per child regardless of the parents’ personal situation and occupational status. This goal has almost been entirely achieved, though a few exceptions remain.
The following individuals may claim family allowances:
Individuals who are not gainfully employed (low-income)
Individuals in receipt of daily allowances from the unemployment insurance scheme are not eligible for family allowances. Nonetheless, they can claim a supplement from their unemployment fund which is equivalent to the family allowance (child’s allowance and education allowance) to which they would have been entitled if they were still in work, and provided that no other party, whether salaried or self-employed, is eligible to claim family allowances for the same child.
Family allowances are paid out by the employers, family allowances offices with which the employers or the self-employed are registered, or by the cantonal family allowances offices.
The first line of contact for insured persons with questions about Swiss Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance, invalidity insurance, income compensation allowances, supplementary benefits and family allowances are the compensation funds and IV Offices: