How Social Security Benefits the Public

Financial and material help are available from the Government for needy citizens through various assistance programmes to address their basic needs.

Social Security System

The Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme provides a safety net for those who cannot support themselves financially. It is designed to bring their income up to a prescribed level to meet their basic needs. To be eligible for assistance, an applicant must satisfy the residence requirements and pass the financial tests.

Persons aged 15 to 59 in normal health should actively seek full-time jobs and participate in the Support for Self-reliance (SFS) Scheme if they are unemployed, working part-time or earning less than a defined reasonable wage.

More on the CSSA SchemeMore on the SFS Scheme

Elderly CSSA recipients who meet the prescribed criteria and choose to retire permanently in the Guangdong or Fujian provinces can apply for the Portable CSSA (PCSSA) to continue to receive their monthly standard rate and annual long-term supplement.

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The Social Security Allowance (SSA) Scheme, which includes Old Age Allowance, Normal Disability Allowance, Higher Disability Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance and Guangdong Scheme, is designed to provide a monthly allowance to Hong Kong residents who are 65 years of age or above or who are severely disabled to meet special needs arising from old age or disability. Except for the applicants of Old Age Living Allowance and applicants aged 65 to 69 of Guangdong Scheme, persons applying for allowances under the Scheme are not required to go through a means test.

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The Criminal and Law Enforcement Injuries Compensation (CLEIC) Scheme aims to provide financial assistance to persons (or to their dependants in cases of death) who are injured as a result of a crime of violence, or by a law enforcement officer using weapon in the execution of his / her duty. The scheme is non-means-tested.

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The Traffic Accident Victims Assistance (TAVA) Scheme provides speedy financial assistance to road traffic accident victims (or to their surviving dependents in cases of death) on a non-means-tested basis, regardless of the element of fault leading to the occurrence of the accident.

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Emergency Relief (ER) helps victims of natural and other disasters and also for evacuees of buildings and premises considered to be dangerous under Closure Orders by means of providing cooked meals (or cash-in-lieu of meals) and relief articles. The Emergency Relief Fund is to provide prompt assistance to persons in need of urgent relief as a result of fire, typhoon, flooding or other natural disasters.

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Fee Waiver for Medical Services

To ensure that all citizens can receive essential medical care, the Government has designed a system of fee waiver for medical services. All CSSA recipients are eligible for the scheme and non-CSSA recipients can apply for a fee waiver if they are:  

  • low income earners;
  • chronically ill patients and elderly patients who have little income and few assets.

Applications can be made to:

  • the medical social services unit of the public hospital or clinic; or
  • the Integrated Family Service Centres or Family & Child Protective Services Unit of the Social Welfare Department (SWD).

The Medical Social Workers / Social Workers would assess the application with due consideration to the financial, social and medical condition of the applicants on a household basis.

More on the Fee Waiver Mechanism

Housing in Times of Need

Another way in which the Government supports people in need is through Compassionate Rehousing and the provision of temporary shelter during emergencies.

Compassionate Rehousing (CR)

CR is a form of special housing assistance which aims at providing housing assistance to individuals and families who have genuine and imminent long-term housing needs but, owing to their social and medical needs (if applicable) under specific circumstances, have no other feasible means to solve their housing problems. CR is different from general public rental housing (PRH) application. It has to be assessed comprehensively by professional social workers / approved persons. The SWD will recommend cases to the Housing Department (HD). On receiving a CR recommendation, HD will arrange the client for detailed eligibility vetting and allocation of PRH unit for eligible cases.

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Temporary Shelter

There are 78 temporary shelters in the 18 districts throughout Hong Kong. They will be opened for public use during typhoons, landslides, heavy rainstorms or other emergency situations at the discretion of the respective District Officers. Temporary shelters will also be provided for people in need in the event of cold or prolonged oppressively hot weather.

More on temporary shelters
Last revision date: September 2017