I am old and need money – urgently. Where can I get help?

People who have devoted their whole lives to culture often end up empty-handed in their old age. If this happens, help can be provided in a number of ways in Switzerland, such as by the advice service run by the elderly people’s association Pro Senectute or through special emergency aid funds for culture professionals, supplementary benefits and, if all else fails, welfare benefits.


Pro Senectute is the largest specialist organisation providing services for elderly people in Switzerland. It is politically neutral and has a 100-year-old history. Going to one of its 130 help centres is a good idea if you have questions about finance and old age.

Emergency hardship funds

Various foundations have sent up emergency hardship funds for people in the cultural sector. You can receive support in cases of hardship caused by old age, illness, accident or circumstances outside of your control. The decision to provide support is taken by the council of each foundation.


+Possible: one-off emergency hardship payments or interest-free loans.

Not possible: long-term payments towards your living costs or for debt restructuring.

You can find a list of the foundations offering hardship support under the menu point ‘Support organisations’

Supplementary benefits

If a pension is provided through Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance (AHV/AVS) or Invalidity Insurance and despite this you are still below the poverty line, supplementary benefits will be paid out at your request. You can apply for them at the AHV/AVS branch where you live.

Welfare benefits

Welfare benefits are the last net provided if someone cannot find work, all assets have been spent or sold and no other social security insurance provides coverage. In Switzerland, the cantons are responsible for laying down the availability and conditions. The brochure provides quick access to detailed information.

Brochure: Welfare benefits (PDF)