M. Michael Brady has lived and worked in Norway for years. He has written and translated more than 20 books and nearly 1000 magazine articles on Norwegian themes.
According to a survey conducted in 2004* on the quality of life for older residents in 16 countries round the world, Norway ranked sixth overall and was among countries offering the best health care, public spending on social programmes and per-capita income.
As in other countries, the ageing population has triggered public debate on and official revision of the country’s pension schemes. As this book goes to press, extensive pension reform has been proposed by the government but not yet implemented. For the latest details, consult the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs joint website on pension reform at www.pensjonsreform.no, with pages in Norwegian and in English.
The reform deals mostly with the financing and management of pensions. The everyday practices remain unchanged. The mandatory retirement age is 67, but early retirement at 62 is allowed. The provisions and facilities provided by the State and the municipalities for retired persons include aid-call alarms (trygghetsalarm), assistance support (hjelpestønad), attendance allowance (omsorgslønn), community nursing (hjemmesykepleie), dental services (tannhelsetjenester), disability pensions (uførepensjon), hearing aids (høreapparater), housing and care (bolig og institusjoner), meal service (ombringing av middagsmat), pedicure and hairdressing (fotpleie og hårpleie), return to home country for foreign citizens (tilbakevending), elderly centres (eldresentere), sheltered housing (trygdebolig), State pensions (alderspensjon), survivor pensions (etterlattepensjon), technical aids (tekniske hjelpemidler), transport assistance (transportordning) and voluntary assistance centres (frivillighetssentral).
Moreover, senior citizens older than 60 or 67, depending on the service, travel at half price (honnørrabatt) on trains, city public transport, buses, airlines, boats and ferries. Likewise, theatres, museums and other places of entertainment also offer discounts to senior citizens.
* Source: the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), published in the November-December 2004 issue of AARP The Magazine, available online at www.aarpmagazine. org.
EURAG, an acronym from its name in German, Europäische Arbeitsgemeinschaft, is the European Federation of the Elderly, a not-for-profit, apolitical, non-sectarian organisation founded in 1962. Through its member organisations in 33 European countries, including the National Council for Senior Citizens in Norway, EURAG aims to promote the quality of life of senior citizens. It acts at the international level by putting proposals and motions before international organisations. It holds congresses and regularly publishes news of interest to senior citizens in English, French, German and Italian. For further information, contact the secretariat, Wielandgasse 9, A-8019 Graz, Austria, Tel: +316 814608, Fax: +316 814767, www.eurag-europe.org, [email protected].
Housing and care for senior citizens (Boliger og institusjoner for senorer)
There are various provisions for housing and care for senior citizens, that depend in part on the age and health of a person. They divide into five categories:
- 1A housing grant (boligtilskudd) can help pay for the improvement of an older flat or house. The State Housing Bank (Husbanken) provides grants to persons whose need for financial assistance can be established; this is called a means test (behovsprøv).
- 2A rent allowance (bostøtte) to persons who cannot afford to pay their rent or housing expenses. Also provided by The State Housing Bank and subject to a means test.
- 3Sheltered housing (trygdebolig) are usually complexes of flats or small houses for elderly and disabled persons. The residents look after themselves and may be assisted by home help or community nursing services.
- 4Retirement homes (aldershjem) are intended for elderly persons who can manage well on their own but have difficulty performing housework and need some attention and nursing care.
- 5Nursing homes (sykehjem) are for persons who cannot look after themselves but have no need to be hospitalised.
For further information on all housing and care for the elderly, contact the municipal offices concerned: health and social services (helse- og sosialtjenesten) and rent allowance (bostøttekontor or bostøtteordning).
National Council for Senior Citizens (Statens seniorrad)
People over 50 years old are considered to be senior citizens (seniorer). It’s a relatively new term in the language that is replacing the former “elderly” (elder). It includes people who retire, usually at age 67, to become retired persons (pensjonister). The National Council for Senior Citizens advises public agencies and national institutions on matters concerning over-50s. It focuses principally on living conditions, employment opportunities and health care. It is a member of EURAG. For further information, in Norwegian and in English, contact the head office, Universitets gt 2, PO Box 7077 St Olavs plass, 0130 Oslo, Tel: 24163048, Fax: 24163004, www.statens.seniorraad.no, [email protected]
Private pension plans (Egne pensjonsavtaler)
There are numerous private sector pension plans that can provide retirement income to augment your State pension. Private sector companies usually have collective plans for their employees (private tjenestepensjonsordinger). Public sector employees are covered by the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund (Statens pensjonskasse), Slemdalsveien 37, PO Box 5364 Majorstua, 0304 Oslo, Tel: 22241500, Fax: 22241501, www.spk.no, [email protected]. You may also initiate and regularly contribute with tax advantage to a private pension plan, called Individuelle pensjonsavtale – IPA (“Individual Pension Agreement”). An IPA allows you a tax return deduction of up to NOK 40,000 in the tax year ending 31 December. As you are building your IPA fund, you are not taxed on any yields that may accrue but the amount of the premiums paid in is taxed as part of your estate. For further details, contact your bank or insurance company.
State pension (Alderspensjon)
State pensions are paid by the National Insurance Scheme (Folketrygden). The mandatory retirement age is 67. There is no early retirement, but retirement may be postponed until age 70. The pension paid is a combination of a basic pension (grunnpensjon) and a supplementary pension (tilleggspensjon) and in some cases a special increment (sœrtillegg) or provider increment (forsørgingstillegg). Pensions are calculated according to the basic amount (Chapter 2).
The basic pension is equal to the basic amount and is paid to everyone, in full to those who have lived in the country at least 40 years after age 16 and in lesser amounts to those who have resided less in the country. Everyone who has resided in the country for three years or more is entitled to some benefits.
For further details on pensions, contact the nearest National Insurance office, listed under trygdekontor in the Pink Pages.