I picked up my residency card the other day (complete with horrid picture), and decided to head to the TE office and Kela the next day to start the journey to getting my benefits started. Wow, what an education.
First off: the TE office. You have to go there first, get registered as a “client”, and then you can go to Kela and tell them you are registered as a jobseeker, and start the process for unemployment benefits.
The way to think of it is this: TE makes the determinations as to what status you are (this is regarding unemployment), and will tell Kela. Kela actually disperses the funds.
In any case, I registered as a ‘client’ of TE, as an unemployed jobseeker. However, we hit a few snafus. Because I don’t have a degree, or any sort of certificate from a vocational school, there would be a 21-week (aprox 5 month) waiting period for unemployment benefits. In addition, any studying I do on my own (such as Finnish language classes) need to be cleared with TE, as that can affect payment status.
Additionally, I was scheduled a Finnish language assessment test (can’t we just skip that and go with ‘0’ as my starting level?), which will tell them where I should be placed for their intensive language course — which already has a waiting period of an undefined time.
After that, I will have my actual interview, where they will go in to more detail on my rights and responsibilities as a jobseeker in Finland, and this is when I will put together my integration plan with the TE office that is submitted to Kela.
Things I still need to provide, which you may want to keep in mind if you are coming here. Any job held in the past two years needs a certificate from the employer that states who you worked for, essential job functions/responsibilities, dates you worked and why you left. Apparently this is de rigour in Finland, but since it’s not in the States, I have to get one typed up from my last employer. And since I owned my own business in the last ten years (sold in 2007), I have to type up a statement or show that I did sell it. Good luck on me finding the sales paper, although I’m sure I scanned it somewhere. 🙂
I also have to get a certificate from the Finnish language class that I am taking now, saying that I am enrolled and what the level of study is.
Now, let’s move on to the Kela office. The wait wasn’t so bad. I was 14 numbers out when I got there, but my number was called within 15 minutes or so. They do move fast. Sat down with a nice fellow, who had me fill out an application for benefits, although he said, and this is the big thing, nothing will move forward until Social Security approves me…and they don’t start their approval process until they receive notice from the Police that my residency was approved. It shows in the system that they got the notice of approval on Oct 28, and he said it could be three months before Social Security gives their approval. THEN the paperwork that I am filling out with Kela will move forward.
He did say that I would receive something in the mail with the Social Security determination, and if approved, then my Kela card should arrive in the next week or so.
I have a doctor’s appointment in mid-November, and as a resident of Helsinki, they should accept me without the Kela card, which we have confirmed they will. Also, to cover the meds for my MS, I should ask the doctor to fill out the form to give me a “medical certificate B” type of Kela card. This way, the meds that usually cost 1912€ and are only at a 35% discount, will be covered at 100%. Much better. Keep that in mind if you have some issue like I have. If I get this form from the doctor in to Kela before everything is approved, they can send that sort out; otherwise, they send out a new card.
As for the unemployment benefits. Currently, I am looking at close to May before those would start. However, if I enroll in an intensive language course (which is defined as a 20-hour or more a week course), then they can waive the waiting period and pay me unemployment at a student rate for those months. So I am currently looking at courses. The lady at the TE office gave me her email address and said that I could send them to her and she would let me know if they qualify before I actually register.
In closing, pretty much everything is in the computer, just waiting on Social Security before anything can move forward. It’s the typical pitch of “Hurry up and wait” found so often in dealing with the government. I think I got it all accurately described above. There’s quite a bit of ‘do this first, then this, but this has to be done before that’ sort of confusion.
In fun news, Wellu and I went to the Moomin Shop this morning before my class. He loves me and bought me the silly advent calendar that I really wanted (yes, I am a fool for the little Moomin figures). He indulges me so much. And I got two reflectors, one for my backpack and the other for my jacket. I don’t care if “adults don’t wear Moomin reflectors”, as he says. I do, and I am proud to do so. So nyah!