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Old 08.10.2020, 12:33
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Turning 18-How does it affect applying for Swiss citizenship and disability benefits

Dear all,

I first want to say how much I appreciate all the help/advice and information I have gotten from this forum on a wide range of subjects! I have learn a lot and each viewpoint/perspective and experiences provided are extremely valued!

My question is covering two topics, one disability benefits and Swiss citizenship. My son was involved in an accident here in Switzerland at the age of 14. He underwent treatment here but due to the complexity of his case we continued his treatment in the US. He has a c-permit and approval for treatment outside Switzerland until Dec 2021.

Here is our dilemma. He is tuning 18 in January 2021. Our whole family has applied for Swiss citizenship and we were told by the Migrationamt that he could not apply for citizenship as he is currently out of the country. He fulfils all other requirements except that one. My question is are there any repercussions if we wait to apply for citizenship after he turns 18? Is it harder to get, or are there different rules that apply?

The second question is about disability. We have applied for disability benefits for him. I understood that if someone is disabled than they need to register with the IV as soon as the disability is known. We have and were told that we should apply for it when he has returned to Switzerland. Again, are there any repercussions if we apply for disability when he is over 18? Does that change any of his entitlements? In his health insurance accident policy, it states that if he is entitled to a certain amount of benefits if he is disabled because of an accident. I contacted the insurance company and they told me that his doctor needs to start this process. We talked to his Doctor here in Switzerland, and she says that the IV office needs to contact her. She has written a report of his current condition which we attached to our application to the IV office. The IV office says that we should wait until he returns to Switzerland and then apply again. I feel like I am getting the run around but don't want to hear "oh I am sorry this doesnt apply now that he is 18.....".
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Old 08.10.2020, 13:33
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Re: Turning 18-How does it affect applying for Swiss citizenship and disability benef

For citizenship: Next to the federal residency requirement he will need between 2 and 5 years of uninterrupted stay in the same commune and canton. This depends on cantons regulations.

In canton of Zurich you need 2 year of uninterrupted stay in the commune you apply for citizenship. In canton Uri you would need 5 years of uninterrupted stay in the commune you apply for citizenship.

However in case of canton Zurich and if the applicant has either been born in Switzerland or went to the mandatory Swiss schools for at least 5 years, and if the applicant is between 18 and 25 years old, only two years of stays in canton of Zurich is needed.
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Old 09.10.2020, 11:50
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Re: Turning 18-How does it affect applying for Swiss citizenship and disability benef

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For citizenship: Next to the federal residency requirement he will need between 2 and 5 years of uninterrupted stay in the same commune and canton. This depends on cantons regulations.

In canton of Zurich you need 2 year of uninterrupted stay in the commune you apply for citizenship. In canton Uri you would need 5 years of uninterrupted stay in the commune you apply for citizenship.

However in case of canton Zurich and if the applicant has either been born in Switzerland or went to the mandatory Swiss schools for at least 5 years, and if the applicant is between 18 and 25 years old, only two years of stays in canton of Zurich is needed.
Is he desperate to do his civil service?
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Old 09.10.2020, 11:52
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Re: Turning 18-How does it affect applying for Swiss citizenship and disability benef

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Is he desperate to do his civil service?
He would probably be exempt if on disability benefits, no?
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Old 09.10.2020, 12:47
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Re: Turning 18-How does it affect applying for Swiss citizenship and disability benef

Hi gumpy,
You do well to want to research these questions thoroughly.

Disability benefits can cover some of the costs of four components.
  1. treatment
  2. materials
  3. integration measures to facilitate employment
  4. a pension (until the person regains their ability to earn their living, or until regular old-age pensionable age).


1. deals with treatment for hereditory or birth defects.
2. includes such things as wheelchairs or hearing-aids, or special enlarging screens as a visual aid, etc. Typically this is either the actual equipment issued from a supplier, or a partial contribution towards the costs.
3. involves an assessment primarily of the insured person's ability to earn a living, and what they might need (coaching, a wheelchair ramp, an understanding employer, better or other skills, etc.) in order to become self-supporting.
4. is awarded only if 1., 2., and 3. together do not succeed in rendering the person able to earn his/her own living.

As far as I know, the cover for 1. is limited to medical issues that are reported before the person turns 18, and I think that children not born in Switzerland are exluded from this.

2., 3. and 4., on the other hand, can occur at any time in one's life, up until regular old-age pensionable age.
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Old 09.10.2020, 13:59
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Re: Turning 18-How does it affect applying for Swiss citizenship and disability benef

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The second question is about disability. We have applied for disability benefits for him.
For which benefits did you apply? 1., 2., 3. or 4.?

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I understood that if someone is disabled than they need to register with the IV as soon as the disability is known. We have and were told that we should apply for it when he has returned to Switzerland.
In Switzerland, disability (other than deafness and blindness) are not defined by degree of impairment. The Disability Office knows no scale of, for example: one leg impaired, one finger, etc.

What counts for the Swiss Disability Office is always the [in]ability to earn one's own living. In German, this is called "Erwerbsfähigkeit". A person is considered disabled if they cannot go about their normal activities fully, without the aid of a person and/or a device: for a minor and sometimes for a young adult to school, for an adult, to work.

Before 18, it would be considered normal for your son to go to school, or do an apprenticesip, or attend a college or university. This would be so after 18, too, for as long as his first studies continued.

Some people who have major disabilities are still able to fully earn their own living, and they are therefore not considered "disabled" by this definition of "impaired in one's ability to earn one's own living".

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Again, are there any repercussions if we apply for disability when he is over 18? Does that change any of his entitlements?
Since you have already applied, he will now have a file at the Disability Office. His application will lie pending and nothing will happen, and it will be resumed when he is once again living in Switzerland. Then, he will need to provide current and past doctors' reports.

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In his health insurance accident policy, it states that if he is entitled to a certain amount of benefits if he is disabled because of an accident.
I don't understand this bit. The health insurance accident policy is something completely different from the Swiss state Disability Office ("the IV"). I think, from your previous posts, that you understand that these are two different insurances. Could you clarify your question, here, please?

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I contacted the insurance company and they told me that his doctor needs to start this process.
Here, do you mean the health insurance?

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We talked to his Doctor here in Switzerland, and she says that the IV office needs to contact her. She has written a report of his current condition which we attached to our application to the IV office.
Here, you're talking about the Disability Office ("the IV") again. I'm sorry, but I'm missing some part of what you're asking.

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The IV office says that we should wait until he returns to Switzerland and then apply again.
Yes. This is right. He is out of the country and not Swiss and therefore not eligible. Even so, they will have taken note of the application. I doubt very much that they will have rejected it so fully that he "doesn't exist" in their database. No, I think he will now have a file, but his case is frozen/still/pending until he returns to Switzerland. Thereupon, he can re-awaken it by informing them that he is back, and supplying new doctors' reports.

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I feel like I am getting the run around but don't want to hear "oh I am sorry this doesnt apply now that he is 18.....".
I can fully understand your insecurity in this. And you are right to want to gain clarity. Yes.
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Old 09.10.2020, 14:50
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Re: Turning 18-How does it affect applying for Swiss citizenship and disability benef

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... He has a c-permit and approval for treatment outside Switzerland until Dec 2021...
As I understand it from your other posts, the C permit is on hold while he is abroad, i.e. he's technically not residing here right now. You even said while on hold it's not valid:
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...The permit is put on hold, but during that time it is not considered valid.
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For citizenship: Next to the federal residency requirement he will need between 2 and 5 years of uninterrupted stay in the same commune and canton. This depends on cantons regulations.

In canton of Zurich you need 2 year of uninterrupted stay in the commune you apply for citizenship. In canton Uri you would need 5 years of uninterrupted stay in the commune you apply for citizenship.

However in case of canton Zurich and if the applicant has either been born in Switzerland or went to the mandatory Swiss schools for at least 5 years, and if the applicant is between 18 and 25 years old, only two years of stays in canton of Zurich is needed.
Do you know if "hold" years count the same? He's not 18 so I guess one could argue that his center of life remained here. Does it have to be the two years immediately preceding the application? If so then I see no way he can apply for citizenship until he's been back in CH for two years.

OP - I think you've got a complex situation and it's no wonder you're getting different answers. It might be a tough argument to make to say he wants to be a citizen and can't provide for himself, when he currently lives in another country and is going to high school while getting treatment.
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Old 09.10.2020, 15:04
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Re: Turning 18-How does it affect applying for Swiss citizenship and disability benef

Agree with most of the above apart from not being able to provide for himself part.

Receiving a federal disability pension is considered to be an insurance which is paid out centrally by Bern and is not a cantonal/communal benefit (and as such is not a hinderence towards citizenship).
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Old 10.10.2020, 11:24
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As I understand it from your other posts, the C permit is on hold while he is abroad, i.e. he's technically not residing here right now. You even said while on hold it's not valid:




Do you know if "hold" years count the same? He's not 18 so I guess one could argue that his center of life remained here. Does it have to be the two years immediately preceding the application? If so then I see no way he can apply for citizenship until he's been back in CH for two years.

OP - I think you've got a complex situation and it's no wonder you're getting different answers. It might be a tough argument to make to say he wants to be a citizen and can't provide for himself, when he currently lives in another country and is going to high school while getting treatment.



This is the big question. When we applied for Swiss citizenship, we applied as a family. The Einburgerungen department wrote us a letter asking us if we still wanted to continue with his application. Due to `Artikel 33 Absatz 3 des Burgerrechtsgesetzes besagt, dass der Aufenhaldt bei der Abreise ins Ausland als aufgegeben gilt, wenn die Person sich bei der zustandigen Behorde abmeldet oder wahrend mehr als sechs Monaten tatsachlich im Ausland lebt". As they gave us a choice, instead of telling us it wasnt possible, leads me to believe that there are other options. I also think these laws are designed with adults in mind rather than children.
As it turns out, he has never been out of the country for more than 6 months and the only reason why we applied for the Aufrechterhaltung der Niederlassungsbewillingung is because the Migrationamt told us we had to. At that point, I did not know how many operations he would undergo, nor for how long he would need to be out of the country. The Migrationamt told us that if he was out of the country for six months he would have to return to Switzerland and live here for a year before he could leave the country again, so it seemed like that the Niederlassungsbewillingung was are only option. Hindsight, I am not sure but what is done is done.

I have since learned I need to know the law before I make any such moves, as the Migrationamt does not always act/advice within the law. Unfortunately, I am not in the position to hire a lawyer, and from previous experience, despite winning our case, we had to pay thousands of chf out of pocket to prove we were within the law. Do not want to have to do that again, if possible.

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He would probably be exempt if on disability benefits, no?
I think he would be exempt, but I also think despite being disabled he would still have to pay some fine for not participating. Not sure.

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Hi gumpy,
You do well to want to research these questions thoroughly.

Disability benefits can cover some of the costs of four components.
  1. treatment
  2. materials
  3. integration measures to facilitate employment
  4. a pension (until the person regains their ability to earn their living, or until regular old-age pensionable age).


1. deals with treatment for hereditory or birth defects.
2. includes such things as wheelchairs or hearing-aids, or special enlarging screens as a visual aid, etc. Typically this is either the actual equipment issued from a supplier, or a partial contribution towards the costs.
3. involves an assessment primarily of the insured person's ability to earn a living, and what they might need (coaching, a wheelchair ramp, an understanding employer, better or other skills, etc.) in order to become self-supporting.
4. is awarded only if 1., 2., and 3. together do not succeed in rendering the person able to earn his/her own living.

As far as I know, the cover for 1. is limited to medical issues that are reported before the person turns 18, and I think that children not born in Switzerland are exluded from this.

2., 3. and 4., on the other hand, can occur at any time in one's life, up until regular old-age pensionable age.
Thank you for the explanation! You have a gift of be able to summarize and condense information for the lay person to understand!

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For which benefits did you apply? 1., 2., 3. or 4.?


In Switzerland, disability (other than deafness and blindness) are not defined by degree of impairment. The Disability Office knows no scale of, for example: one leg impaired, one finger, etc.

What counts for the Swiss Disability Office is always the [in]ability to earn one's own living. In German, this is called "Erwerbsfähigkeit". A person is considered disabled if they cannot go about their normal activities fully, without the aid of a person and/or a device: for a minor and sometimes for a young adult to school, for an adult, to work.

Before 18, it would be considered normal for your son to go to school, or do an apprenticesip, or attend a college or university. This would be so after 18, too, for as long as his first studies continued.

Some people who have major disabilities are still able to fully earn their own living, and they are therefore not considered "disabled" by this definition of "impaired in one's ability to earn one's own living".


Since you have already applied, he will now have a file at the Disability Office. His application will lie pending and nothing will happen, and it will be resumed when he is once again living in Switzerland. Then, he will need to provide current and past doctors' reports.


I don't understand this bit. The health insurance accident policy is something completely different from the Swiss state Disability Office ("the IV"). I think, from your previous posts, that you understand that these are two different insurances. Could you clarify your question, here, please?


Here, do you mean the health insurance?


Here, you're talking about the Disability Office ("the IV") again. I'm sorry, but I'm missing some part of what you're asking.


Yes. This is right. He is out of the country and not Swiss and therefore not eligible. Even so, they will have taken note of the application. I doubt very much that they will have rejected it so fully that he "doesn't exist" in their database. No, I think he will now have a file, but his case is frozen/still/pending until he returns to Switzerland. Thereupon, he can re-awaken it by informing them that he is back, and supplying new doctors' reports.


I can fully understand your insecurity in this. And you are right to want to gain clarity. Yes.
I applied for the benefits of 2 and 3. I am not sure how his disability is going to evolve and want to make sure he is recognized as being disabled and can get the help he needs. Especially in terms of schooling. He has undergone 5 operations is the last 3 years and every operation affects his field of vision. Needless to say, the past three years have been difficult especially in terms of school/studying. Its hard to concentrate/read for extended periods of time. He can read but it just takes him longer and he needs breaks. At our last Dr. visit he was told that he will never be able to drive in Switzerland, and he cannot operate with machinery. This obviously affects what type of profession he can go into. He wants to go to University but not sure if it will be possible for him here, but the IV office can hopefully help us in this regard.

Sorry I dont know how to quote different posts so I will put your questions in bold

I don't understand this bit. The health insurance accident policy is something completely different from the Swiss state Disability Office ("the IV"). I think, from your previous posts, that you understand that these are two different insurances. Could you clarify your question, here, please?

I am referring to his private accident insurance policy and not the IV office. In my sons policy it states In the event of disability as a result of an accident, the agreed lump sum is paid out depending on the degree of disability. So I wrote to our insurance provider to get clarification and they said:

The best way to start the process of recognizing that he is disabled (to a certain degree) is to talk with his doctor (in Switzerland). He will help you to get the ball rolling on this`. I talked to his doctor here in Switzerland and she said we need to apply to the IV office and if the IV had any questions about his condition, they could call her. Now the IV office says wait until he comes back but since I have only heard how long this process can sometimes take I wanted to get this started. In addition, I dont know if anything changes with his insurance policy when he turns 18. I hope not. One thing is for sure, he needs to keep this insurance policy as I dont think we will ever get the coverage that we have now anywhere else.

Here, do you mean the health insurance?

Yes his private health insurance

Here, you're talking about the Disability Office ("the IV") again. I'm sorry, but I'm missing some part of what you're asking

I am sorry, I really didnt make myself clear. Yes, now I am talking about the IV again. In short, my understanding is that the private insurance company requires that the degree of disability is determined by the treating Doctor. However, the Dr. told me she doesnt determine the degree of disability it is the IV office who does that. So not sure who is responsible for determining the degree of disability, but if he is entitled to that I dont want that entitlement to disappear when he turns 18. He can take care of himself, and make a living, however, his professional opportunities and are now limited. Do not know if that influences anything with regard to disability benefits or not, but by you definition "impaired in one's ability to earn one's own living" I would conclude not.

Last edited by roegner; 10.10.2020 at 14:34. Reason: Merging consecutive posts
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