Updated on 2 July 2024 

What is a “social pension” and who can apply for it? 

There are two main options for receiving a pension in Bulgaria:

  1. Contributory-service pension

You can apply for this one if you have worked and paid pension contributions in Bulgaria for at least 35 years and 2 months (for women) or 38 years and 2 months (for men). 

  1.  Social pension

If you do not meet the requirements for the contributory-service pension you may be entitled to a social pension, intended for people over 70 years old with low income. 

If you are a foreign national residing in Bulgaria permanently, you have a refugee/humanitarian status or you are a temporary protection holder, you have the right to apply for this social pension if:

  • you have turned 70 years old; AND
  • your annual income per family member by the time you have turned 70 is lower than 526,00 leva for the last 12 months; AND
  • you do not receive any other pensions in Bulgaria or from another country.

If you apply for a social pension within 2 months as of the day you have turned 70, your pension will be granted from the day you have acquired this right. That means that you will be paid a pension retroactively from the day you have turned 70. 

If you apply after the initial 2-month time-limit then you will be paid your pension as of the day you have applied for it. In this case, the income per family member is calculated from the day of application. 

The amount of your annual income DO NOT INCLUDE:

  • The financial support from the state you may have received for hiring a personal assistant to take care of you (if you have one), compensations, automatic increases linked with prices or earnings, and one-off pension bonuses. 
  • Social assistance or home heating assistance:

See more here:

Home Heating Social Assistance in Bulgaria

  • Family assistance

See more here:

Social assistance for children in Bulgaria

How much is the social pension?

As of 1 July 2024, the social pension is 307,07 leva per month

Where can I apply for it?

You can file your application in person at the National Social Security Institute (NSSI). You must apply at the office responsible for the region where your permanent or current address registration is. You can find a list of all local offices here.  

You can submit your application yourself or via another person who has a notarized authorization, or via your lawyer, who has a power-of-attorney. 

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Necessary documents

  1. Your Bulgarian Identity Document
  2. An application form for granting social pensions. 

In the application, you must write down your name, personal number, current address, postcode, etc., information about your civil status and further information about granting and paying the pension. 

  1. written declaration about your family status and your annual income per family member, including income from a foreign country. 

The declaration concerns your income 12 months before your application. When defining your annual income, the number of your family members is taken into account. 

  1. Copy of a bank statement containing your IBAN, attached to your application, if you wish your pension to be paid into your bank account

After submitting your document you will receive a reference number with which you can check your file and the progress of your application. This is how you can find out whether your application has been approved or not at the NSSI office. 

Usually, the NSSI sends its decision by post. This is why it is important for you to refer to a relevant address in your application. It must be your P.O. box address and you need to make sure you check your P.O. box regularly. You can also ask a clerk at your local post office to inform you when they have received a letter for you from the NSSI.

What happens after I submit my application?

A decision to grant you the social pension or not is issued by NSSI official within 4 months from the day you have submitted your application. 

If you get a positive decision, your pension will be paid every month between the 7th and the 20th day of the respective month. If a payment date falls on а non-working day, you can receive your pension on the next working day.

You or a person to whom you gave an explicit notarized authorization can receive your pension through:

  1. Your local post office. 

You must choose the preferred post office upon submitting your application for social pension if this is your preferred way of receiving your pension.

If for some reason your pension was not paid between the 7th and the 20th day, it can be paid in the following month (between the 7th and the 20th day of that month). If you haven’t received your pension by the 20th day of the following month, the post office grants the payments by the 25th day of the month. In these cases, unpaid pensions can be paid by the post office for up to 6 months back. 

Always bring your identity documents with you when receiving your social pension. Post officers will ask you for it. Upon receiving the payment, you must sign a payslip as a proof that the pension has been granted. 

If you want to change the post office, you must submit an application form to your local NSSI. Here is a form template: Change of address application form.

  1. Аt your home address

Your pension can also be paid to you directly at your permanent or current address. You need to request this from your local post office.

In this case, your social pension can also be paid to your husband/wife, and children above 18 years old. They don’t need explicit authorization. They must only present your and their ID. 

  1. Via bank transfer into your personal bank account

When you file out your application you must include your International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and the name of the bank.

In case you have closed your bank account, you must notify your local NSSI immediately. 

Can I receive other types of pensions in addition to my social pension?

If you receive an old-age social pension, you cannot receive other types of pensions at the same time. This rule also applies if you already receive a pension in another country.

Suspension of your social pension

Your pension can be suspended if:

  1. You submit an application for suspension.  Suspension of pension application form
  2. You haven’t claimed your pension for more than 6 months,

In cases (1) and (2), your pension can receive your pension again when you file an application stating that the conditions for suspension no longer exist. Payment is resumed from the day of suspension if you have submitted your application within 3 years from that date. If you have applied after that date- from the day of application.

  1. When there is data about a committed crime, which is relevant to the right to a  pension and its amount (e.g. you declared false information) - from the day that data has been confirmed. 

In this case, your pension can be resumed by the NSSI when there are no longer grounds for suspension. Payment is resumed from the date of suspension. 

Termination of your social pensions

When you no longer meet the requirements for receiving a pension (e.g. your family’s income becomes more than the allowed maximum or you start receiving another type of pension) it can be terminated. 

How do I appeal if I am rejected for a social pension?

You can appeal against the refusal to be granted a social pension before the Director of the respective local NSSI office. You must file your appeal no later than 1 month from the date the decision was served. 

The Director must issue a reasoned decision no later than 1 month after your appeal is received. 

You can appeal the decision of the Director of the local NSSI office before the administrative court within 14 days from the day you have received the decision. The decision of the administrative court is final. 

Contact a lawyer who can help you file the appeal as soon as possible. The Foundation for Access to Rights – FAR can also help you with the appeal or any other issues, which may arise. Contact us through this form: 

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