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Social insurance in the EU

In order for people to be able to freely choose a country in the European Union to live and work in, they must be guaranteed certain social insurance rights. These include sickness and maternity benefits; invalidity (incapacity for work), old age and survivor’s pensions; occupational accident and illness benefits; death grants; benefits payable to the unemployed; and family benefits.

Since the laws guaranteeing the social insurance rights of member states differ, rules were developed in  Council Regulation (EEC) no. 1408/71 regarding the application of social insurance schemes within the union in terms of the movement of employees, the self-employed and their family members. These coordination rules are applicable to the movement of citizens, the stateless and refugees within the EU.

As from 1 May 2010 instead of that regulation applies European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) Regulation No. 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems, which includes amended and updated rules of the old regulation.

The regulation neither set outs which benefits should be paid to a person by one country or another nor establishes the size of pensions and benefits. Countries must ensure that people moving from one member state to another do not find themselves worse off than those who live and work in one member state their whole lives.

Coordination rules are applicable in European Economic Area (EEA) - in all EU Member States, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland.

However during the transitional period Regulation No 1408/71 applies still in Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Since 1 April 2012 Regulation 883/2004 is in force only in Switzerland.

The payment of the social insurance benefits mentioned above is organised by  the Social Insurance Board,  the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and  the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Animated clips can help better explain the social security coordination rules on pensions, unemployment benefits and legislation applicable (in English, French, German, Spain, Italian, Polish):

 Moving within Europe - Which country is responsible for your social security rights?

 Moving within Europe - Which country will pay my old-age pension?

 Moving within Europe - How does moving affect my right to unemployment benefits?

Last modified on: February 13 2013 02:48pm

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