Social assistance is an institution of social policy of the state, aimed at enabling individuals and families to overcome difficult life situations which they are unable to overcome by using their own powers, resources and possibilities. Social assistance supports individuals and families in the form of financial, material and service. The social assistance benefits system supports financially persons and families with low incomes and without income. The tools used by social assistance include social work, various types of benefits, assistance and advice.
The right to social assistance benefits is granted to Polish citizens residing and staying on the territory of Poland, foreigners who are citizens of the EU, EEA or Swiss Confederation, as well as foreigners from third countries (unless international agreements provide otherwise) residing in Poland:
- on the basis of a permanent residence permit,
- on the basis of a long-term resident’s European Union residence permit,
- on the basis of a temporary residence permit granted for the purpose of family reunion, if he arrives on the territory of Poland and is a family member of a foreigner residing on the territory of Poland in connection with being granted refugee status or subsidiary protection,
- in connection with obtaining refugee status or subsidiary protection in the Republic of Poland,
- in connection with obtaining a permit to stay in Poland for humanitarian reasons or a permit for tolerated stay – in the form of a shelter, a meal, necessary clothing and a special purpose allowance.
Social assistance benefits shall be provided on application submitted by:
- a person concerned,
- their legal representative,
- another person, with the consent of the person concerned or their legal representative.
A person or family applying for social assistance can apply to the social assistance centre in their place of residence (centres are located in each municipality). Decisions on whether or not to grant or refuse assistance require a community interview with the family member of the social worker in advance. Decisions on social assistance benefits are issued in a written form.
The right to cash benefits are granted to persons and families whose income does not exceed established income criteria. From 1 October 2018, the income criterion for a single person cannot exceed the amount of PLN 701, and for a person in a family PLN 528.