Long-term care

In Belgium, disabled or elderly people who need specific support or long-term care can claim benefits provided for this purpose.

These benefits are as follows:

  • the integration allowance (AI): a federal benefit for disabled persons to compensate for the additional costs resulting from the lack or reduction of self-sustainability;
  • 'third party assistance' allowance provided as part of the mandatory federal social insurance;
  • elderly assistance allowance (APA) in the Walloon Region, the Brussels-Capital Region and the German-speaking Community: allowance for disabled persons to compensate for the additional costs resulting from the lack or reduction of self-sustainability;
  • benefits under the Flemish social welfare system (Vlaamse Sociale Bescherming);
    • personal care budget for severely dependent persons: non-medical help and assistance of a non-medical nature provided by third parties to someone with limited independence in a residential, semi-residential or ambulatory environment;
    • personal care budget for people with disabilities: the benefit awarded to people with a recognised disability and a limited need for assistance. The personal care budget can be freely used for assistance needs: home care, day care, guidance, purchase of service vouchers, community care;
    • personal care budget for elderly people requiring care: compensation for the extra costs involved due to the lack or reduction of independence. People living in the Flemish Region receive this personal care budget instead of the APA elderly assistance allowance;
  • personal budget for personal assistance to disabled persons provided by the Walloon social welfare system;
  • benefits provided by the social welfare of each of the federated entities for elderly persons and persons with mental or physical disabilities (e.g. care and accommodation in retirement homes, day-care centres, accommodation in psychiatric care homes, etc.).

Mandatory federal insurance for medical care and benefits

In order to qualify for a lump-sum 'third-party assistance' allowance, the following conditions apply:

  • you must have been recognised as incapacitated for work for more than three months in your capacity as employee or self-employed person under the sickness and disability insurance scheme;
  • you must demonstrate a minimum loss of self-sustainability that prevents you from carrying out certain daily tasks without the help of a third party;
  • you must not be staying in a care home or nursing home.

Integration allowance

To improve the daily lives of people with a disability, expensive adjustments are often necessary (such as a motorised wheelchair, ergonomic kitchen utensils or special equipment for the bathroom). To help cover these additional costs, you can apply for an integration allowance (AI), provided that the following conditions are met:

  • your disability must have been diagnosed by an accredited physician;
  • your income (or your income combined with your partner’s income) must not exceed a certain threshold;
  • you must be at least 21 years old and not older than 65;
  • you must be registered in the population register;
  • you must have your place of residence in Belgium and actually reside there.

For more information on the AI integration allowance, please visit the page Integration allowance of the Belgian social security portal (in French).

Elderly assistance allowance

If you are 65 years of age or older and have difficulty with your daily activities, you may be entitled to the elderly assistance allowance (APA). This allowance is the same as the integration allowance, but is intended for persons aged 65 and over. The earliest you can apply for the benefit is the day of your 65th birthday. In addition to this age requirement, the following criteria must also be met:

  • you must live in Wallonia, Brussels or the German-speaking Community and actually reside there;
  • your disability must be recognised by an accredited physician;
  • your income and that of your partner must not exceed a certain threshold;
  • you must be registered in the population register.

More information about the allowance can be found on the page Elderly assistance allowance on the Belgian social security website (in French) or on the Flemish social security welfare website (in Dutch).

Flemish social welfare in the Flemish Region

Flemish social welfare is a package of allowances and financing schemes to help with long-term care within the Flemish Community.

Each insured person is required to pay a contribution. This pays for the care budgets and the elderly assistance allowance.

To be eligible for this benefit, you must have lived in the Flemish Region or the Brussels-Capital Region for at least 5 years at the time of making your application. However, it is not obligatory for Brussels residents to join. Additionally, beneficiaries must have a recognised disability, be at least 65 years of age or have a reduced level of independence (at least 7 points on the scale of independence), depending on the type of benefit. Medical examinations related to awarding the elderly assistance allowance are still carried out at federal level.

More information on the Flemish social security welfare website (in Dutch).

Social welfare in the Walloon Region

To be eligible for Walloon social welfare benefits, you must live in the territory of the French-speaking Walloon Region. To be eligible for the personal assistance budget for people with disabilities, you must meet several criteria:

  • be of Belgian nationality or naturalised or have resided in Belgium continuously for 5 years;
  • have your residence in the territory of French-speaking Wallonia (i.e. in one of the Walloon communes with the exception of the nine communes of the German-speaking Community);
  • be less than 65 years of age when you make your first application;
  • have a disability.

More details on the Walloon social welfare website (in French).

Brussels social welfare in the bilingual Brussels-Capital Region

To be eligible for social welfare benefits in Brussels, you must live in the territory of the bilingual Brussels-Capital Region.

More details on the website of Iriscare, the Brussels social welfare agency (in French)

Social welfare in the German-speaking Community

In order to qualify for the disabled person’s allowance in the German-speaking Community, you must meet several criteria:

  • be of Belgian nationality or naturalised or have resided in Belgium continuously for 5 years;
  • have your residence in the territory of the German-speaking Community;
  • be less than 65 years of age when you make your first application;
  • have a disability.

More details on the German-speaking Community website (in German).

Mandatory federal insurance for medical care and benefits

You apply for the lump-sum allowance from your health insurance fund. In Belgium the health insurance funds provide allowances for medical care. More information on affiliating to a health care insurance fund can be found on the How to affiliate to a health insurance fund page of the INAMI-website (in French).

It is possible to apply as soon as uoy have been incapacitated for 4 months. The advising health insurance fund physician will assess the degree in which your self-sustainability is reduced. 

The lump-sum allowance is paid by the health insurance fund together with the incapacity for work benefit.

Integration allowance (AI)

You can apply for an integration allowance directly on the Integration allowance page of the website of the General Direction of persons with a handicap (FPS Social Security) (In French).

A person’s degree of self-sustainability is usually determined based on a medical examination. This forms the basis for calculating the amount of benefit to which you are entitled. This benefit can be combined with an income replacement benefit. To calculate the amount of the contribution, the income of the applicant and his or her partner if they share the same household is taken into account.

Elderly assistance allowance (APA) 

You can apply for this allowance directly on the Elderly assistance allowance page of the website of the General Direction of persons with a handicap (FPS Social Security) (In French).

A person’s degree of independence is usually determined based on a medical examination. This forms the basis for calculating the amount of benefit to which you are entitled. The income of the applicant and his or her partner if they share the same household is taken into account when calculating the amount of the allowance.

For people living in Wallonia (until 31 December 2020) or Brussels, a claim for elderly assistance allowance can only be made by applying to the FPS Social Security.

The German-speaking Community has been responsible for the allowance since 2016. Although it finances the allowance, administrative processing is still carried out as before by the FPS Social Security.

Flemish social welfare

The personal budget for heavily dependent persons

People who are heavily dependent and identified as dependent from health care at their home receive a personal care budget, just like elderly persons in a nursing or psychiatric home.

You can apply for this allowance online via the page Personal  budget for heavily dependent persons on the website of the Flemish Social welfare (in Dutch).

The personal budget for disabled persons

This disabled persons allowance (also known as 'basisondersteuningsbudget' (BOB)) is a Flemish allowance for people with a recognised disability and a limited need for care. The budget can be spent as one sees fit on the support required: home care, day care, support, purchase of service vouchers, local care, etc. It is not necessary to submit an application for this, as the allowance is awarded automatically.

The personal budget for elderly persons requiring care

The personal budget for elderly people requiring care (over 65 years of age) depends on the income and the degree of care needed. More information can be found on the page Personal budget for elderly persons requiring care of the Flemish Social welfare website (in Dutch).

Walloon social welfare

For more information about long-term care service in the French-speaking Walloon Region and how to apply, please visit the website of the Walloon Social welfare (in French).

Brussels social welfare

For more information about long-term care services in the Brussels-Capital Region and how to apply, please visit the Iriscare website (in French).

Social welfare in the German-speaking Community

For more information about long-term care in the German-speaking Community and how to apply, please visit the website of the German-speaking community (in German).

FPS Social security

General Direction Disabled Persons

Boulevard du Jardin Botanique 50 boîte 150 - 1000 Bruxelles

Tel. : 0800 98 799 (from abroad - charges apply: +32 2 528 69 99)

Website: https://handicap.belgium.be/fr/index.htm

Flemish social welfare

Overview of health care funds for social protection in Flanders (in Dutch)

Social welfare in Wallonia

Overview of health care funds of Walloon insurance companies for social protection in Wallonia (in French)

Social welfare in Brussels

Overview of Brussels insurance companies for social protection in Brussels (in French)

Social welfare in the German-speaking Community

Ministerium der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft

Gospertstrasse 1 - 4700 Eupen

Tel. 087/59.63.00

Website: www.ostbelgienlive.be (in German)