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Old 15.05.2015, 01:59
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Debtor being in the Social Service? [resolved]

Dear EF people,

I have a question that it is tricky because the topic is loaded with judgements (both in the Swiss culture as in the general capitalistic mindset of western Europe and US).

To the point: my parents, in their mid-50s, (mom is swiss national, dad is not) are in the social service. They returned to Switzerland after having worked all their life in South America. On arrival, they registered on the Social Service, which in turn registered them in RAV so they are looking for a job, they also indicated they had to register for medical insurance as it is mandatory, and they did. They located them in an emergency home for a while and they started paying out these things. After a bit, they found an apartment to leave the emergency home, and they moved. The move was to another Canton (Fribourg), so the change of Social Service was relatively complex.

This is where things went a bit to hell. The Social Service in Fribourg started postponing the payment of the medical insurance, claiming that for some reason it should be the previous Social Service the one who should do that. This turned out to be a flat out lie, but they managed to delay payments for 6 months! Earlier this year, my dad received an announcement of debt collection from the bankruptcy office (Betreibungsamt). During this whole process, my parents were informing their Social Service Worker about this, and she kept saying "yes, don't worry, I'll deal with it". And yesterday they received a letter saying that as the debt is still standing, and the police (or a similar body, I didn't get exactly which one) will come to their house on 1st June and seize objects up to the debt value from their apartment!!

Now, I believe the Social Service is acting wrong here, to the point that I think what they've done is ilegal. As far as I understand, it is the Social Service's duty to pay for medical insurance of people under their protection. This is a right. I am definitely not familiar with law, but I believe this right is described in the federal constitution (as in every person shall have access to social security and health care), and implemented via different laws on the cantonal level.

First request: If anyone is familiar with these laws, I'd appreciate if could point me to the right bits of legislation to go to the Social Service office with something concrete to show.

Second request: does anyone know of any institution that could help here? They will try to go to something called "Fribourg For All" and seek legal counseling, but it is a really long shot IMO. Is there a process to complain about the utter incompetence of a Social Service Worker if you are in the Social Service? Feels like there is no way.


Now, I know a lot of people have strong opinions about the whole social service thing, with ideas like "people receiving social benefits are all worthless crap", "why do they take MY tax money to pay these idiots", and the like, or the whole "pride" thing that the swiss have with going to the social service. Let me tell you that I don't need any preaching in that regard: I am swiss and I pay those taxes too, my mom is also swiss, not that it makes any difference which nationality one is thou, but to clear up the prejudice about "damn foreigners stealing our money". My parents are hard working people that just happened to be raised in a poor country with very little chances to climb up the social ladder, and reached mid-life borderlining poverty despite all the work they put in. There are lots of factors that can make one rich or poor, and hard-work only has marginal impact on a life's outcome.

So, if you feel like bitching and preaching me about why it is so wrong that they are where they are, please hold yourself. Right now, I'm only looking for actual help, and I appreciate any tips, or whatever on how to deal with this situation.

Best,
Gonzalo
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Old 15.05.2015, 08:55
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

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yesterday they received a letter saying that as the debt is still standing, and the police (or a similar body, I didn't get exactly which one) will come to their house on 1st June and seize objects up to the debt value from their apartment!!
Make sure they are not home that day, they will reschedule.

Tom
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Old 15.05.2015, 09:07
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

Thanks, definitely an option, but that would be "escaping for a crime they didn't really commit".
My biggest concern is that I don't think it is right that they are treated as debtors when in fact it is the social service the one that didn't pay, it's a debt generated by them.

Also, please notice the twisted irony of the fact that if the Debts Office seizes stuff, then it will be the Social Service the one in charge of providing them with new ones because that's how they got what they have in the first place (minus presents and some other small purchase, but in general, most furniture is social service anyway).
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Old 15.05.2015, 09:11
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

I can't recall if the SS pays the medical insurance directly, nor whether they pay all of it. I'll have to ask someone.

What they DON'T pay is any fanchise costs, that comes out of the money one receives.

And, it may vary between cantons.

Tom
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Old 15.05.2015, 09:13
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

Don't know if there are cantonal differences, but Zurich pays directly and pays all of it. They moved from Zurich to Fribourg, the social service in Zurich was paying it, and they forwarded a full dossier of these topics when they moved to FR. The Social Worker in Zurich was always very correct and he tried to make extra sure that Fribourg would take over the bills of medical insurance asap, but he never got a reply from the Social Worker in Fribourg.
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Old 15.05.2015, 09:25
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

Despite what you say, most people are NOT against unemployment (RAV) or Social Security, what people do get upset with are people who try to dick the system or people who have not paid into the system, yet expect to receive benefits when everything goes tits up in the country where they have lived all their lives.

Why didn't they use the Social Security in the country where they have worked all their lives ?

Why don't you pay for the health insurance and appartement, or at least be a guarantor for the money, that would probably resolve this problem.

Fribourg is not a rich canton, maybe not the best choice....
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Old 15.05.2015, 09:29
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

> Why didn't they use the Social Security in the country where they have worked all their lives ?

Because there isn't any.

> Why don't you pay for the [..].

I help them where I can, but I don't make enough money to support two families (my wife & kids + my parents).

In any case, this is the kind of preaching that I'd appreciate if could be left out of this thread. You can try to convince me about it in DM if you will, but right now, I'm looking for constructive advices on how to resolve the current situation.
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Old 15.05.2015, 09:32
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

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> Why didn't they use the Social Security in the country where they have worked all their lives ?

Because there isn't any.

> Why don't you pay for the [..].

I help them where I can, but I don't make enough money to support two families (my wife & kids + my parents).

In any case, this is the kind of preaching that I'd appreciate if could be left out of this thread. You can try to convince me about it in DM if you will, but right now, I'm looking for constructive advices on how to resolve the current situation.
Take a loan then, go into debt and help resolve the problem, find another job, get your wife a job, do a second job
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Old 15.05.2015, 09:57
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

So people live their life abroad, never worked or contributed in Switzerland, have good time, when it's time to retire they come back here so we pay for their bills and retirement?

WHY?!

If you don't want to support your own parents, why should I?!
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Old 15.05.2015, 10:58
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

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So people live their life abroad, never worked or contributed in Switzerland, have good time, when it's time to retire they come back here so we pay for their bills and retirement?

WHY?!

If you don't want to support your own parents, why should I?!
Because she is Swiss citizen. Being a citizen means you have the irrevocable right to return to the country of your citizenship. Very simple.

Or do you imply that only those who paid taxes to Switzerland should be allowed to live in Switzerland?
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Old 15.05.2015, 11:02
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

Does someone know if there is the equivalent of a Citizens Advice in Zürich?

What's the point of getting into a bitching session? They are asking for help as we all have to do at some point in our lives.
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Old 15.05.2015, 11:03
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

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So people live their life abroad, never worked or contributed in Switzerland, have good time, when it's time to retire they come back here so we pay for their bills and retirement?

WHY?!

If you don't want to support your own parents, why should I?!
The absolute number of people doing this is unknown, but it is believed to be rising.
Ideally, people should at least pay into AHV even while abroad. That way, they can get a minimum payment every month.
But more often than not, the support system for old people just as we know it just doesn't exist elsewhere.
Medical care especially will be very costly or simply unobtainable.

I don't blame OP's parents for doing what they did (and they probably didn't plan on this from the get-go). But clearly, the social net couldn't handle it if people would be doing this en masse.


I'm not sure how it's handled here in Switzerland, but in Germany the bailiff can't really confiscate much (you can own one TV, one radio, one computer, one car...).
As I understood it, OPs parents are basically penniless. As such, there can't be much to take, right?
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Old 15.05.2015, 11:06
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

Does your mother speak good French or German? It would seem the situation has arisen due to misunderstandings. Where is your mother's Heimat?

In the short term, I think they should make an appointment to speak with the manager of the social services office, and try to find a resolution.

The Betreibungsamt will only take luxurious goods, and I am very surprised they announce they are coming in 14 days time...!
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Old 15.05.2015, 11:21
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

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Where is your mother's Heimat?
The Heimatort is no longer relevant for such situations, nor has it been for 20 years or more.

Tom
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Old 15.05.2015, 11:21
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

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The absolute number of people doing this is unknown, but it is believed to be rising.
Whether it is or not is not relevant to the social services that are outlined in the legal framework that defines it. In any case, the assumption that is rising is just that, an assumption; discussions that are based on assumptions are just ideological disputes, and going there helps nobody.

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As I understood it, OPs parents are basically penniless. As such, there can't be much to take, right?
Yes, exactly. But in any case, do you know the emotional cost of having your house seized in search of valuable items for a debt that -in theory- the state was taking care of?

So, again, we can side track and discuss why right-wing or left-wing ideologies are deeply flawed, why my tax money is more worthy of being spent on rescuing banks than help out people, or whatever, but please, pretty please, I will again ask you not to. At least, not in this thread, just DM me if you want to discuss.

But now, I really need help, not political preaching.

Thank you guys and girls
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Old 15.05.2015, 11:25
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

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Does your mother speak good French or German? It would seem the situation has arisen due to misunderstandings. Where is your mother's Heimat?

In the short term, I think they should make an appointment to speak with the manager of the social services office, and try to find a resolution.

The Betreibungsamt will only take luxurious goods, and I am very surprised they announce they are coming in 14 days time...!
The speak French, B2 level, which should be good enough for to sort out misunderstandings. They brought up the initial letters to the social service, they social worked said she would deal with it. She didn't.

Heimatort is in Graübunden, but as @st2lemans pointed out, it is irrelevant in this case.

About the speaking to the manager of social services, yes, right now, that's the only way I am seeing. But in their rules, it is explicitly stated that when in disagreement or doubt, one must contact the manager of SS in written, he/she won't talk to you directly. They will do that for sure, but I fear the slowness of the system will mean the manager cannot solve it in time.

Best,
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Old 15.05.2015, 11:32
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

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Because she is Swiss citizen. Being a citizen means you have the irrevocable right to return to the country of your citizenship. Very simple.

Or do you imply that only those who paid taxes to Switzerland should be allowed to live in Switzerland?
I have no problem with a CH citizen coming back to live in Switzerland after spending all their life abroad. What I have a problem is - that I have to pay for their retirement. When their own children don't want to help.

Sure, any CH citizen can come back here if they want, but be able to support themselves. Not to be supported by me and you, the working stiffs to hand out free money to people that never contributed to the pension pot of this country.

If it continues like that, in 30 years nobody will have pension money!
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Old 15.05.2015, 11:37
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

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I have no problem with a CH citizen coming back to live in Switzerland after spending all their life abroad. What I have a problem is - that I have to pay for their retirement.
They are in there 50s, i.e. NOT retired.

And where is it stated that they have made no contributions in their lifetime to the Swiss system?

Tom
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Old 15.05.2015, 11:39
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

I know someone who was on social help, in Zurich canton, and she received a set amount of money paid into her bank account - after the Gemeinde had paid her rent. With this money in her account she had to pay her own krankenkass and other debts.
Actually, they had sat her down and went thru all her monthly costs, telling her what she could and could not afford - moving her krankenkasse to some other cheaper version.
So I cannot understand how your parents could have "run up debts" with their krankenkasse, unless they didn't pay the franchise amount of their medical accounts? The entire amount needs to be paid before re-imbursement less the 10% or whatever it costs (to my understanding).


About their goods being confiscated - why worry? The basics of living are not claimed .... beds, cooking apparatus, clothing, household linens, radio/tv (unless nice big modern flat-screen) tools, etc. As others have said, if they have nothing of actual high value, what are they going to take?
And most of it was provided by social services, so it`s going to look pretty dumb for them to take it away.
Maybe this event will actually speed up the process of defining what exactly is going on? Those people will certainly know WHO to approach about the why and wherefore of this situation. (When strangers are instructed to act on your parents meagre belongs - which were just donations in the first instance?)


A suggestion from me (if you don`t mind?) what about your parents approaching their social services worker and asking about casual employment with the Gemeinde - to help alleviate the social costs they receive?
This friend I mentioned would wash the Gemeinde window shutters, clean windows, empty public dirt bins, etc. She would be paid, but the money taken off her monthly amount. Just made her feel better about herself.
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Old 15.05.2015, 11:55
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Re: Debtor being in the Social Service?

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So I cannot understand how your parents could have "run up debts" with their krankenkasse, unless they didn't pay the franchise amount of their medical accounts? The entire amount needs to be paid before re-imbursement less the 10% or whatever it costs (to my understanding).
Yes, this is what they did in Zurich Social Service, except they also paid medical insurance directly, not only rent. They have the minimum health insurance, and they have not used it at all, i.e. no extra costs there. When they moved, Fribourg's SS was supposed to take over the payment of the medical insurance, but they delayed the payment claiming that is was still Zurich's duty, which a few months down the line turned out to be false, and they were instructed to pay. But they didn't, because they said that now they want to wait for the Canton to approve the "Prämienverbilligung" (reductions) before they pay out. In the meantime, nobody seems to have stopped the process and this is generating debt ever since.


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About their goods being confiscated - why worry? The basics of living are not claimed ....
They have nothing of value, and yes, most -if not all- is coming from donations and Brokenhaus stuff. But as I said above, consider the emotional cost to health of having your house searched and seized for valuables.


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A suggestion from me (if you don`t mind?) what about your parents approaching their social services worker and asking about casual employment with the Gemeinde - to help alleviate the social costs they receive?
Yes, it could be an option, but I don't think doing that will stop the debt collection process, because the Betreibungsamt is a department detached from the Social Service one, and from the Gemeinde as well.

And the Betreibungsamt acts on behalf of a creditor, the medical insurance in this case, so, unless they go clean the windows of the insurance and they are ok with it, I fail to see how that helps to resolve this concrete situation.

Regards,
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