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Ukraine: Pensions for Emigrants

(Nov. 9, 2009) On October 9, 2009, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine announced its decision to recognize selected provisions of articles 49 and 51 of the Law on Mandatory Retirement Insurance, articles that establish that citizens of Ukraine may continue to receive their retirement benefits abroad only if the country of their residence had signed a relevant treaty with Ukraine, as unconstitutional and void as of the day the ruling was announced. (Constitutional Court of Ukraine official website, (last visited Nov. 6, 2009).) At present, Ukraine has such treaties with some of the former Soviet Union republics and with Israel. For individuals who emigrate to a country that has not concluded a pension treaty with Ukraine, before their departure, a lump sum amount equal to the amount of their retirement benefits for a period of six months is paid, and they relinquish all other rights to their pensions.

The Court has now emphasized the necessity to enact legislation to regulate payment of pensions to Ukrainian citizens residing in countries without pension treaties with Ukraine, in accordance with the Ukrainian Constitution. The ruling states that laws should be adopted by the Verkhovna Rada (the legislature) aimed at compensating those who suffered due to previous legislation now recognized as unconstitutional.

Because the Constitutional Court's rulings have no retroactive force, it appears that only those individuals who apply for retirement benefits after October 9, 2009, the day the ruling was announced, will be eligible to receive benefits, regardless of the date they left Ukraine. It is not clear what rights will be given to those Ukrainian citizens who started to receive their retirement benefits in Ukraine before having left the country. Another unresolved issue is the status of those Ukrainians who have received citizenship in the country of their present abode. Ukraine does not recognize dual citizenship. (For interpretation of the Constitutional Court ruling, see the interviews with Members of the Ukrainian legislature published in KOMMERSANT-UKRAINA newspaper [in Russian],
(last visited Nov. 6, 2009).)