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old-age and survivors' pensions

Each Member State is free to determine such things as the pensionable age, the amount of the contributions to be paid in order to fund the national pension scheme, and the methods of calculating and conditions for granting the national pension.

The Community provisions on social security come into play in order to protect persons who have worked in several Member States of the European Economic Area, with a view to guaranteeing, inter alia, that no social security contribution paid is lost and that their acquired pension rights are preserved in the country that they are leaving in order to go and work in another country. These rules also stipulate that each country is obliged to pay a pension commensurate with the insurance periods completed there.

When a worker has spent his/her working life in more than one Member State, Regulations Nos 1408/71 and 574/72 guarantee that, if a period of insurance is not enough to fulfil the qualifying period that might be required by a Member State's legislation for acquiring entitlement to the pension, the insurance periods completed in other countries will also be taken into account (under the principle of aggregation).

Furthermore, the same Regulations lay down special rules for calculation of old-age and survivors' pensions. Accordingly, as soon as the person concerned submits a pension application in a Member State, the pension entitlements will be calculated in accordance with all the legislations that have been applicable to him/her.

The social security institutions of each country where the worker has been insured are thus obliged to calculate a national pension and a pro rata pension, to compare the two figures and to grant the migrant worker the amount most favourable to him/her.

The national pension is the pension calculated in accordance with the national rules only, taking account solely of the periods of work in the country.

In order to determine the proportional or pro rata pension, it is first necessary to calculate the theoretical amount, which takes the whole of a person's working life into account as if the periods spent abroad had been completed in the country in question. Overlapping periods of work are counted only once.

The pro rata pension is then obtained by multiplying this theoretical amount by a fraction whose numerator represents the duration of the periods of work in the country and denominator all the periods taken into account in determining the theoretical amount.

Subsequent adjustments of pensions to the cost of living or the level of wages are carried out automatically without taking account of the amount of other pensions, while the review of the pensioner's personal situation or of the rules for calculating pensions in a Member State presupposes that the amount of the pension is also reviewed in all the other Member States.

Application of the national non-aggregation rules designed to limit or prohibit the aggregation of the benefits (survivors' with retirement benefits or with other income) that a person may be granted is also strictly regulated in his/her favour.

Lastly, Comunity law also stipulates that old-age benefit shall be paid wherever the former migrant worker resides or stays on the territory of the European Economic Area, without any reduction, change or suspension.

  • For the most part, the provisions on old-age and survivors' pensions are contained in Title III, Chapter 3 of Regulation 1408/71 (OJ No L28 of 30 January 1997).
  • Practical tip: When you submit your pension application in one of the countries where you have worked, the institution examining it will inform all the other competent institutions by means of forms E202 (retirement pension) and E203 (survivor's pension).
  • Forms E205, E206 and E207 are designed for forwarding all relevant information about a person's career in all the countries concerned. Form E205 shows the years of insurance in a given country. Form E206 relates to the special schemes for miners. Lastly, form E207 contains a statement of the years of working abroad in the country examining your pension application.

Forms E208 and E210 organise an exchange of data on the decisions taken by the pension institutions