Pensions and other benefits in Spain

1. Overview

The Spanish Constitution provides that the public authorities are to maintain a public system of social security for all citizens which will guarantee social assistance and services which are sufficient in cases of need. Complementary assistance and services are free.

The Spanish Social Security system covers all Spanish nationals who reside and perform their labour activities in Spain as well as foreigners holding residence permits in Spain. Spanish nationals, who do not reside in Spain, are also covered under certain circumstances. Such protection also covers the family of the insured person.

The Spanish Social Security System provides two different schemes :

  • The general scheme, or scheme for the dependent worker: It imposes a set percentage of income as a contribution to be paid jointly by the employer and the employee.
  • The scheme for the self-employed: The employee, who works on his own account, is responsible for the total amount of contribution, he can choose between a maximum and a minimum percentage of contribution. It provides no unemployment benefits.

Employer and employee’s contributions constitute the main social security financing;  however, the employer pays the greater share, and must complete all formalities to ensure that workers are covered by the social security system.

Personnel are classified into labour categories for the purpose of determining their social security contributions. The government annually establishes the maximum and minimum contribution rate. The minimum salary on which social security contributions must be paid is around € 421 a month.

The contributions that dependent workers and employers pay jointly are higher than self-employed contributions, as employees are entitled to unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs. The mandatory unemployment contribution is paid as a percentage of the salary.

Pursuant to social security treaties signed between Spain and some other countries, including all the European Community countries and United States, expatriates may remain members of the social security system of their country of origin for a limited period.

Spanish Social Security contributions start as you start working in Spain, not when you obtain your residence card.

2. Main Benefits

The Spanish Social Security System includes benefits for health care (sickness and maternity), injuries at workunemployment, pensions, invalidity and death benefits.

2.1. Unemployment

Unemployed workers in Spain have the right to receive benefit if they have contributed the social security over a minimum period of 360 days within the last 6 years before they get unemployed.

The amount that the unemployed will receive will depend on the contributions they have made within the last 180 days. There is a minimum and maximum amount of benefit they may receive.

You retain the right to unemployment benefits for a maximum period of 2 years, provided that you have worked during 6 years before becoming unemployed.

You must register as unemployed with the Spanish Institute of Employment (INEM) and apply for their unemployment benefit within 15 days of becoming unemployed.

Your must be legally unemployed to receive the benefit. You will not be entitled to this benefit when it has been your own decision to terminate your employment contract and therefore become unemployed.

As a general rule, employers or self-employed persons are not entitled to unemployment benefits. However, it is possible to do some spare time work and still get unemployment benefit.

Foreigners entitled to unemployment benefit in Spain will lose this benefit if they go back to residing to their country of origin.

2.2. Maternity Leave

The mother employee has the right to suspend her employment contract during 16 weeks to take care of her newborn child.

In case of a multiple birth, this period is extended to 2 more weeks for every newborn child. Moreover, her position must be kept for her until she comes back to work. During this period she is entitled to receive her salary as normally does.

The employee must have been registered with the social security. She must have contributed during 180 days within 5 years before the child was born.

2.3. Retirement

In general terms, Spanish workers may retire at the age of 65 years. They shall have previously contributed to social security for 15 years, two of them must be included within the previous 15 years, from the date in which the worker has the right to retire.

The amount of pension that the worker shall receive will depend upon the number of years that he had contributed and his taxable income. He could receive 100% of his taxable income with a total contribution period of not less than 35 years.

The worker’s final pension is based principally on his payments during the 8-year period prior to his retirement.3.

3. Getting legal help

Let us take care of all the legal paperwork regarding your Social Security benefits in Spain. Start by setting up a consultation with one of our English-speaking Spanish lawyers for a fixed one-off price:

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