This chapter gives a general description of the Swiss retirement system.
Benefits covered in this chapter:
- old-age pension of the old age and survivors’ insurance (1st pillar)
- supplementary benefits to the 1st pillar
- old-age pension under the occupational benefit plans (2nd pillar)
In what situation can I claim?
There are three levels of old-age benefits in Switzerland, which may be paid to you if you have reached retirement age:
- old-age benefits of the old-age and survivors' insurance (1st pillar), topped up as needed by supplementary benefits;
- old-age benefits under the occupational benefit plans, a compulsory insurance for the majority of employees (2nd pillar);
- benefits of voluntary private savings plan (3rd pillar) that the insured persons may take out on an optional basis. This is encouraged through tax incentives. These benefits are also governed by contractual provisions and are not detailed in this chapter.
What conditions do I need to meet?
Anybody living or engaged in paid employment in Switzerland (employees, self-employed persons and persons not in work) is insured under the 1st pillar.
Old-age pension (1st pillar): this is paid to you when you reach normal retirement age, i.e. 65 for men and 64 for women, provided you have made at least 1 full year of contributions.
Supplementary benefits to the 1st pillar: these are granted if your means (pensions and other income) are not sufficient to cover your basic needs. These benefits apply to the elderly as well as survivors and disabled persons, who receive a pension through the AVS, AI or receive certain other invalidity benefits.
To receive supplementary benefits, you must be habitually resident in Switzerland. If you are a foreign national, you must have resided in Switzerland without interruption for 10 years (5 years for refugees and stateless persons).
Old-age pension under the occupational benefit plans (2nd pillar): if you are affiliated to the 1st pillar and you receive an annual salary of more than CHF 21,330 (EUR 19,621) from the same employer, it is compulsory for you to be insured under the 2nd pillar.
You then receive a pension through the occupational benefit plans.
The age requirements are the same as those for old-age pensions under the 1st pillar (65 years for men and 64 years for women).
Persons in a paid activity who are not subject to the compulsory part of the occupational benefit plans (such as the self-employed) may take out an optional insurance.
What am I entitled to and how can I claim?Old-age pension under the 1st pillar
You are entitled to a complete pension if you have a complete contributions record, i.e. if you have the same number of years of contributions as the people from your age class. For men this is 44 years and for women 43 years.
If your contributions record is incomplete, you are only entitled to a partial pension.
The old-age pension is calculated using the number of years of contributions, which determines the applicable pensions scale, and your average annual income.
There is a minimum and maximum amount per month. For a full pension, the amounts were as follows in 2020:
Minimum per month
Maximum per month
CHF 1,185 (EUR 1,090)
CHF 2,370 (EUR 2,180)
CHF 3,555 (EUR 3,270) for a couple
You may also be entitled to a child's pension, the amount of which corresponds to 40% of the old-age pension:
Minimum per month
Maximum per month
CHF 474 (EUR 436)
CHF 948 (EUR 872)
The pension may be paid 1 or 2 years in advance (early pension). A rate of reduction is then applied for each year of early payment (6.8% per year).
You can also defer the start of the payment of a pension by 1 to 5 years, which will then be increased (between 5.2 and 31.5% depending on the number of months of deferment).
Applications for old-age benefits under the first pillar need to be made to the appropriate compensation fund.
If you received a personal assistance allowance through the invalidity insurance up to retirement age, you may continue to receive this (see the chapter on Other invalidity-related cash benefits).Supplementary benefits to the 1st pillar
If the old-age pension under the 1st pillar and other income are not sufficient to cover the basic needs, supplementary benefits may be paid by the cantons. To receive supplementary benefits, you must be habitually resident in Switzerland. If you are a foreign national, you must have resided in Switzerland without interruption for 10 years (5 years for refugees and stateless persons).
These benefits include the annual supplementary benefit, paid every month, and the reimbursement of costs due to sickness and disability.
The amount of this benefit depends on each person's situation. It is calculated on the basis of your recognised expenses and determining income.
Applications for supplementary benefits must be submitted in writing to the appropriate office in your canton of residence, usually the cantonal compensation fund (see the definition in the chapter on Maternity allowance).
Other benefits of the 1st pillar
A helplessness allowance may also be paid to people who need the help of a third party to carry out basic everyday tasks (see the chapter on Other invalidity-related cash benefits).Old-age pension under the occupational pension scheme (2nd pillar)
If you are an employee, over the years you accumulate retirement assets with a pension institution, through contributions made by you and your employer (with interest). When you retire, the capital accumulated throughout your life is converted into an old-age pension using a conversion rate:
Annual old-age pension:
6.8% of the retirement assets accumulated by the insured person
Pensioners may also receive pensions for children (20% of the old-age pension) under the same conditions as under the 1st pillar.
Early or deferred retirement is possible if the pension institution's regulations provide for it.
You may also request that part of the retirement benefit is paid to you as a lump sum.
The old-age occupational benefit plans are managed by registered pension institutions to which benefit applications must be submitted.
- Average annual income: it consists of income from paid employment and bonuses for child-raising or for care-taking.
- AVS: Old-age and survivors' insurance. The AVS is the first pillar of the old-age and survivors' scheme in Switzerland.
- Bonuses for child-raising or for care-taking: an increase in income taken into consideration to calculate the pension for parents with children aged less than 16 years and for those providing care to close relatives needing care.
- Full year of contributions: the insured has paid contributions for the entire year, or his or her spouse has paid at least twice the minimum contribution for the year, or he or she receives bonuses for child-raising or for care-taking.
Forms you may need to fill in
- Old-age pension application form
- Pension forecast application form
- Application forms for old-age and survivors' insurance benefits
Know your rights
The following links provide additional information about your rights. They are not European Commission sites and do not represent the view of the Commission:
- Leaflets of the AVS/AI Information Centre on the 1st pillar benefits
- Second and third pillars on the FSIO site
- Supplementary benefits to the 1st pillar on the FSIO site
- InfoRegister: where have I contributed?
- Overview of the occupational pension system in Switzerland
- Social insurance: sojourn in Switzerland and departure - information for foreign nationals
European Commission publications:
Who do you need to contact?
Cantonal compensation funds
See the list of compensation funds by canton.
Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO)
Tel. +41 584629011
Fax +41 584627880