Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Frequently asked questions - Pensions

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Pensions covered by the EU rules

The EU rules on social security coordination cover old-age, invalidity, and survivor's pensions. In principle, they apply to state pension schemes and not to occupational or private schemes.

In order to overcome obstacles to free movement related to these supplementary pensions, the European Council adopted Directive 98/49/EC on safeguarding supplementary pension rights of employed and self-employed persons moving within the European Union. This Directive has a very limited scope and concerns the preservation of rights for people leaving a supplementary scheme, the payment of pensions in the different EU countries and the possibility for posted workers to remain affiliated in their home country scheme under the same conditions existing under the EU coordination rules for State schemes.

In general, the rules which apply to pensions for surviving spouses or orphans are the same as the ones applying to invalidity and old-age pensions. Namely, survivors’ pensions have to be paid without any reduction, modification or suspension regardless of where the surviving spouse resides in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

Statutory pre-retirement schemes also come within the scope of the new EU coordination rules. This guarantees that these benefits will be granted to migrants under the same condition as nationals and may also be "exported" when retiring abroad.

However, the principle of aggregation of insurance periods does not apply: this means that the periods of insurance, employment or residence completed in other countries do not have to be taken into account when these benefits are granted.

Calculating your pension

If the period during which you have been insured in an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland is not long enough to qualify for a pension there, periods of insurance or residence that you completed in other countries will be taken into account.

If you have been covered for less than a year, a special rule may apply, as some countries do not provide a pension for short periods: your months of insurance or residence in country A, where you worked for a short time will not be lost but taken into account in the calculation of your pension by B, C, D etc. where you worked longer. >> Use our directory to find a contact institution

You could be entitled to your old-age pension in one country at 60, yet have to wait until 67 in another.

Under such circumstances, it is important that you get information in advance, from all the countries where you have worked, on what your situation will be if you delay the payment of your pension.

There might be an effect on the amounts that you will be paid if you take one pension earlier than the other. The contact institution, normally the competent institution of the country where you live, and the institutions in the other countries will give you further advice. >> Use our directory to find a contact institution

Your claims

You should apply for your pension in the country where you live, unless you never worked there. A "contact institution", normally an institution of the country where you live, will take charge of the management of your pension claim.

The contact institution facilitates the exchange of information between the countries involved in your pension claim.

Once the contact institution has been notified of all the decisions from the different countries, it will send you a summary note of these decisions (a P1 document).

The summary note, the portable document ‘P1’, will give you an overview of the decisions made by each country on you pension claim. It will inform you on the way the institutions have dealt with the different periods of insurance and allow you to see, for instance, whether there are gaps, or overlapping of certain insurance periods.

EU rules give you the right to ask for a review of a national decision on your pension, where it appears that your rights may have been adversely affected by the decisions taken by two or more institutions.

The time limit for asking for such a review runs from the date you receive the summary note (P1 document). The actual time limit will depend on each country's national law.

Moving abroad

Some agreements between the EU and third countries provide for limited coordination in the social security field. In other cases, bi-lateral agreements have been made between an EU country and a non-EU one. To find out about your rights, please contact the competent institution in your country. >> Use our directory to find a contact institution

The amount of your pension will be calculated in accordance with the legislation of the country where you worked in exactly the same way as for its own nationals.

It does not matter whether or not you live there when you reach the pensionable age, you will still be paid a pension.

You should claim the pension in the country where you last worked if you have never actually worked where you live. >> Use our directory to find a contact institution

Your healthcare

As a pensioner, you and your family members are entitled to medical treatment in the country where you reside, in accordance with the legislation of that country.

The cost of the medical treatment is always borne by the country which pays the pension. >> Find more about sickness benefits


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