Are people without the PESEL UKR status entitled to benefits (provided that their children have been granted the PESEL UKR status)?

The Special Act on Assistance to Citizens of Ukraine (specustawa) grants, among others, the right to an child support benefit (i.e. 800+) to a Ukrainian citizen residing in the territory of the Republic of Poland, whose stay in the territory of the Republic of Poland is recognized as legal under the Special Act, i.e. provided that the said Ukrainian citizen entered Poland on February 24, 2022 or later due to military operations conducted in the territory of Ukraine.

The Special Act itself does not determine that only the possession by a Ukrainian citizen of a PESEL number with the annotation UKR confirms the recognition of their stay in Poland as legal under the Special Act. It can therefore be assumed that it is also possible to prove otherwise that the foreigner’s stay in Poland is legal under the Special Act, e.g. through a stamp in the passport confirming their date of entry to Poland. Such an understanding of the provisions of the Act is presented e.g. by the National Health Fund which allows medical centers to verify whether a foreigner is covered by the Act and is entitled to free medical care in various ways, not only by verifying their PESEL UKR number.

Unfortunately, a different approach is presented by the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) and the Ministry of Family and Social Policy when it comes to verifying the right to family benefits; the Social Insurance Institution claims that having a PESEL number is necessary for the institutions granting and paying the aforementioned family benefits (competent municipal authorities and the Social Insurance Institution) to verify the basic premise of their entitlement on the basis of the provisions of the Act on Assistance to Citizens of Ukraine in Connection with the Armed Conflict on the Territory of the Country, i.e. the fact that the residence of a given Ukrainian citizen has been recognized as legal under the said Act.

It follows that the prerequisite for obtaining the 800+ benefit is not PESEL number, but PESEL UKR number. It is therefore necessary that the parent/guardian of the child and the child itself be holders of a valid UKR PESEL number.

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