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Pensions and social security

Social Security

“Social security” means all the measures aimed at the provision of goods and services to Italian nationals who are in difficulty. These measures include, amongst others, free treatment for those in need, from those institutions which guarantee the support and assistance to disabled persons who are deprived of the necessary social means in order to subsist, and, for those in employment, adequate means in case of accident, illness, disability, old age or involuntary unemployment.

Social security includes:

– general assistance for the needy ones, which is however extended to all citizens whenever in need, for the amount that the disbursing body can afford;
– social welfare aimed at employed persons.

The following categorie are entitled to varying degrees of benefits:
– employed or self-employed persons;
– civil servants;
– students;
– pensioners;
– family members and the survivors of the above.

Employed or self-employed persons may enjoy one of the following benefits:

1. OLD-AGE PENSION: following the coming into force of Law 335/95, you have a right to apply for an old-age pension provided you are an employed person, have paid at least 20 years’ contributions, and are 65 years of age if you are a male, or 60 years of age if you are a female.

2. RETIREMENT PENSION: it is governed by Law 335/95 according to which you have a right to a pension provided you are an employed person aged at least 57 with at least 35 years contributions or alternatively you have at least 40 years contributions.

3. ORDINARY DISABILITY CHEQUE: people whose working ability is permanently reduced to less than 1/3 due to a disability or to a physical or mental defect may be entitled to this type of benefit. To this end you must have paid at least 5 years’ insurance and contributions. Of these at least 3 years’ contributions must have been paid in the 5 years prior to the insurance claim.
The cheque is guaranteed for 3 years and may be confirmed, after review by INPS (Italian Social Security Institution), for further periods of 3 years each at the request of the person concerned. After 3 consecutive approvals, the cheque is confirmed indefinitely.
This cheque cannot be transferred to the survivors of the beneficiary.

4. ORDINARY DISABILITY PENSION: this type of pension is for insured persons who are unable to carry out any working activity due to a disability or to a physical or mental defect. To have a right to this pension, the insured person must be able to prove s/he has paid 5 years’ insurance and contributions. Of these at least 3 must have been paid in the 5 years prior to the insurance claim.
The pension is made up of the disability cheque plus an amount which is calculated on the basis of the contributions that the employed person would have accrued if s/he had been able to carry on working until retirement age.

5. PENSION FOR SURVIVORS: the relatives of the deceased employed person are entitled to this type of pension. It is called “pensione di reversibilità” (transferrable pension) if the employed person was the beneficiary of a direct pension or “pensione indiretta” (indirect pension) if the deceased employed person was not the beneficiary of a direct pension, but at the time of death s/he fulfilled the insurance and contribution requirements necessary for obtaining an ordinary disability cheque or the disability pension.
The family members who are entitled to this type of pension are:
– the spouse and the children who, at the time of death of the employed person, are under 18 years of age, students or disabled;
– the parents who, at the time of death of the employed person, are 65 years of age, are not the beneficiaries of a pension and are financially dependent on him/her;
– if the deceased had no spouse, children or parents, unmarried brothers and sisters who, at the time of death of the employed person, are disabled, are not the beneficiaries of a direct or indirect pension and are financially dependent on him/her.


It is granted to citizens over 65 years of age (Italian or from an EU country) who habitually reside in Italy and are devoid of any insurance cover and whose revenues, including that of the spouse, are lower than those set by law.

“International social security ” means the social protection of the citizens of a country who reside in another country. The safeguard of immigrants is guaranteed by means of up-to-date international legislation which must constantly take into account social changes.
Within the EU, social protection is realised through the implementation of the Community Regulations. Community legislation relating to social security is immediately and directly applicable within the 25 countries of the European Union.
The same legislation also applies to a further 3 countries, which, although not part of the EU, have adhered to the Agreement on the European Economic Space: Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
Since 1st June 2002 this legislation has also been applied to the Swiss Confederation by virtue of an agreement signed with the European Community and its 25 Member-States.
Outside the EU, social protection is usually realised by means of bilateral conventions.

EC Regulations no.1408/71 and 574/72, extended and updated several times, fully govern social security in the relationships between the countries of the Europena Union, the European Economic Space and Switzerland.
EC Regulations govern general rules in matters of insurance for disability, retirement and death (pensions), insurance against accidents at work and occupational diseases, against involuntary unemployment, for assistance during illness or maternity, for family benefits.
Additionally, EC Regulations do not replace the legislation of the different Member States, but regulate its implementation so that people who have worked abroad do not lose out in comparison with those who have worked in the country of origin.

EC Regulations have been introduced to fulfill the following objectives:
– 20901. Aggregation of all periods of insurance and contributions paid in the Member States, so as to attain the right to the benefits;
– 20902. The payment of the pension in the country of residence, even if it is borne by another Member State;
– Equal treatment with the citizens of the country where they are employed.

The beneficiaries are all employed and self-employed persons who are citizens of the Member States; stateless or refugees provided they reside in one of the Member States; family members and survivors; civil servants.

In all the Member States insurance for retirement, disability and death, involuntary unemployment and family benefits.

The application for a pension must be presented to the competent institution in the country where you are legally resident, with the following documents:
– work periods in Italy;
– names of the companies;
– worker’s title;
– branches of INPS in Italy where the contributions have been paid;
– work booklet, pay-slips, letters of employment/letter of termination of employment

Similarly to the EC Regulations, international bilateral conventions are legal agreements of internatioal law by virtue of which the contracting States take on the obligation to establish and co-ordinate a reciprocal social insurance scheme which ensures the free circulation of labour recognising:
20916. equal treatment in the field of social security for all citizens of the contracting States;
20917. assimilation of the territory meaning that social security benefits cannot undergo any changes because the recipient resides in a State other than the one from which s/he receives the benefit;
C. aggregation of insurance periods for the acquisition of the right to the benefit.

The Countries with which Italy has signed bilateral conventions in the field of social security are the following: Argentina, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Jersey and the Channel Islands, Macedonia, Monaco Principality, Republic of Cape Verde, San Marino, Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro, U.S.A., Uruguay, Venezuela, Australia, Holy See, Switzerland, Tunisia, Israele e Lybia.
As for Turkey, it is linked to Italy by the European Convention, which came into force on 12 April 1990.
Moreover, the conventions with Chile, Philippines, Morocco and the Czech Republic have been signed but not ratified.

Also partial social security agreements are in force, namely:
1. Italian-Mexican agreement concerning the transferability of pensions;
2. the agreement with Israel concerning workers temporarily posted, who are subjected to the legislation of the country of origin.

The aggregation of insurance periods is allowed provided workers have a minimum insurance and contribution period in the country granting the pension. If the insurance periods are below the minimum period required, the contributions are not lost, but are used by the other state.
According to the EC regulations, the minimum period is of 52 weeks. For the bilateral conventions, the minimum period varies according to the individual conventions.

“Prorata Temporis” means the system by which each member State determines the amount to pay in proportion to the contributions paid within the country itself.
For example, if a worker has at least 20 years contributions in Italy, s/he is entitled to a national pension in an autonomous way, without having to resort to the aggregation of the insurance periods.
When the years of contributions are fewer, it is necessary to resort to the aggregation of the contributions paid in Italy and in the other countries which have signed a convention, so as to accrue the rights to a pension. In this case, the calculation of the pension is carried out pro rata, that is in proportion to the insurance periods accrued in the country paying the pension.

“Minimum amount” means the monthly amount of the pensions which, pro rata, cannot be lower than 1/40 of the minimum treatment in force at the starting date of the pension, for each contribution year credited in Italy. In 2003 the amount of minimum treatment was 402,12 Euros each month.

“Integration to the minimum payment ” means the integration laid down by law, in addition to the pension amount to be paid by the insured person, so that that amount reaches a “minimum payment”.

Concerning the tax aspects of pensions, Italy has signed specific conventions with several countries. Such conventions provide for the de-taxation of the pension in the country providing it and the taxation only in the country of residence.

Italy has signed convention providing for the de-taxation in the country providing it and the taxation in the country of residence with the following States: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bosnia Herzegovina, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, South Corea, Ivory Coast, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Russian Federation, Philippines, Germany, Japan, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lituania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdon, Czech Republic, Federal Repubblic of Yugoslavia, Slovak Republic, Rumania, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, USA, South Africa, Switzerland, Tanzania, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Hungary, Soviet Unione, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia.

Pensions under an international convention are collected through agreements signed by INPS and the various banking institutions operating abroad in the ways specified in the agreements themselves.

“Increases in pensions ” means the increase provided for in Budget Law 2002 to the extent of the social security increases which ensure a monthly revenue equal to Euros 516.46 for thirteen months a year.

Under international conventions, the increases in the social security benefits apply to pensions paid abroad. As of 1st January 2003 the increase in social security benefits, such as to ensure a personal revenue, is up to the individual (provided s/he satisfies the relevant legal requirements and after the revenue conditions have been verified).

Pensions are paid each month to Italians residing abroad.

Pensions for an amount lower than that determined by law are paid every six months, as is the case for pensioners in Italy.

The payment of pensions can be carried out through crediting the pensioner’s current account when this is provided for by an agreement between INPS and the banking institution.

As a general rule, cheques are issued by INPS in the currency of the country where the pensioner resides except for a few countries whose currencies are not quoted on the markets (for example Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela); in this case the payment is carried out in US dollars.

So as to make the dealing with the applications of those who have worked abroad quicker and more efficient, INPS and the Consular Offices have been connected through a network. Thus the insured persons who live abroad can, by going to the relevant Consulate, obtain any piece of information they need relating to their insurance status with INPS in Italy, and in particular any information relating to pensions.

Thanks to the enforcement of Law 127/97, Italian nationals residing abroad can reduce significantly the certificates necessary to obtain the number of benefits under a convention or not, by simply self-certifying them.
Those residing abroad can send to the various national Institutions (INPS, INAIL, Ministry of Treasure, etc.) specific declarations to be used as self-certificates and proving personal details for example level of education, revenue, professional qualifications etc.