Expats Guide To The Spanish Social Security System
The social security system in Spain is designed to protect you should you need government help, and if you are living and working in the country then you will be required to make payments.
Why Make Social Security Payments?
Just as in your home country, it is important to make social security payments in Spain to enable the government to provide financial help should you need it at some point in the future. The most common benefits that you will be entitled to receive are healthcare, unemployment benefits should you be made redundant or become ill, and a pension should you retire in Spain.
Spanish healthcare is up there with the best in the world, and if you make your social security payments then you will be entitled to the majority of your healthcare costs free of charge. Currently, you can get up to 75% of your costs paid for by the government, and although this is quite high it is still a good idea to take out private health insurance at the same time to cover the remaining 25%.
If you become unemployed then your benefits will correlate directly with the amount of payments that you have made over a certain time period. Currently, the payments that you make during the six months before your claim are the basis for how much you will get. There are various rules surrounding how much you are entitled to, but generally you will have to have worked for 360 days within the previous six years to qualify for benefits.
If you want to get a pension then you will have to wait until you are 65 and you must have been making social security payments in the country for 15 years by the time you retire. The amount of your pension will also depend on how much you have paid into the system.
The first thing that you will have to do before starting to make your payments is to get a social security number. This is a legal requirement whether you plan to work or not, and you will need to visit your local social security office in order to obtain it. Before you do this, you must already have an NIE number, and you must take this along with your passport to the office with the completed TA1 form. When you get this number you will also be granted your right to healthcare, which you can then use to get your health card.
How To Make Payments
First we’ll consider whether you are an employer or an employee. Employers generally pay a lot more in social security payments because they also have to pay a proportion of their employees’ payments.
However, if you are an employee then you will still be expected to make payments. These should not be too high, and there is a general system of payments that applies for the majority of workers in the country. The only difference comes for certain workers like those in the military or civil servants, so you should try to find out whether you will fall into one of these categories.
You can generally relax in the knowledge that your employer is in charge of arranging your social security payments. If not, you simply need to take a trip to your social security office and provide them with some documentation including your passport and proof that you are indeed working in the country.
The situation is slightly different if you are self employed. If you fit into this category then you must register as an autonomo, and you will also need a tax license which you can get from the town hall. There are two methods that you can choose to make your social security payments, consisting of the modulos payment system and direct estimations. Essentially, modulos payments are the same each month whatever you earn, and direct estimations are based on how much you earn.
Although in general everyone living and working in Spain has to make social security payments, there is one exception for foreigners who have just arrived. For the first year, and in some cases the first two years, you may have the option of paying your social security payments in your own country, depending on where that is. If you find that you are able to do this then you will have to fill out an E-101 form for the first year and an E-102 form for the second year.
When you move to live and work in Spain, one thing that you don’t have to worry about is how efficient the social security system is. If you make your payments then you will benefit from a very good system that will grant you the same benefits that you are used to in your home country.
However, it is always a good idea to take official legal advice from a Spanish lawyer when you first arrive, or even before you have left your country. This will make the whole process a lot smoother, it will speed up the process when you arrive and it will prevent you from making any mistakes that could cause problems further down the line.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert writes for Alanda Homes, an established real estate agent and developer specializing in properties for sale in Marbella Costa del Sol. For further information on moving to Spain, buying property or to view their current portfolio of properties, please visit http://www.alandahomes.com