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Legal protection tested by recent Kela matters

From 1 January 2017 onwards, the granting of basic social assistance was transferred to the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela). As of 8 March 2017, the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman has received over 200 complaints on the matter.

The received complaints have focused on statutory deadline compliance, issues with online services, and customer service backlogs. The complaints also criticised Kela’s instructions for social assistance, the procedure that has been followed, the evaluation of incomes and expenses, such as housing expenses, and the granting of promissory notes for medicinal and healthcare-related expenses.

Many of the complaints also focused on the issue of how the decisions will take into account any possible financial losses, such as payment reminder expenses, that could be caused by the delays in Kela’s handling process.

Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja will give his decisions on an issue-by-issue basis be-tween March and April. Information on the decisions and implemented actions will distributed. According to the Deputy-Ombudsman, it is important to remember that any appeals for amending a decision made by Kela must be sought primarily according to the procedure presented in the attached appeal instructions. The Deputy-Ombudsman wants to remind everyone that the Ombudsman cannot amend any decisions that have been made by the authori-ties or act as a mode of extraordinary appeal.

If the need for support is urgent, the Act on Social Assistance allows municipalities to grant preventive social assistance for a customer's necessary needs. This provision can be used if Kela is truly unable to process applications and make its decisions within the absolute statutory deadline.

For further information, contact Notary Kaisu Lehtikangas, tel. +358 (0)9 432 3370