Retirement & Social Benefits
The Consulate would like to advise you that the official language of Austria is German. Therefore, we recommend that any letter sent to Austrian Social Security institutions be written in German (if you write in English, your request / application will not be dealt with immediately but will first be sent to a translation agency). Be aware that any information and forms you receive will also be in German. If you need assistance in understanding these forms, please contact the Consulate by phone (312 222-1515), fax (312 222-4113) or e-mail chicago-gk(at)bmeia.gv.at.
Pension (Retirement Benefits)
On 1 January 2003, the two separate Austrian Pension Agencies for blue-collar and white-collar employees merged to form the new "Austrian Pension & Retirement Agency". If you have any questions, please contact the main office or the branch office, both located in Vienna at the same address.
Main Office / Branch Office Vienna
Friedrich Hillegeist-Straße 1, 1021 Wien
Phone: 01143 50303-0
Fax: 01143 50303 28850
E-Mail: pva(at)pva.sozvers.at or pva-lsw(at)pva.sozvers.at
As the official language of Austria is German, any requests and questions posed in German are likely to be answered more quickly. If you call (remember: Vienna is six hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Time and seven hours ahead of US Central Standard Time), please speak German or have someone nearby who can speak and understand German.
To receive an Austrian state pension, you need at least 180 covered months. The retirement age is 65 for men and 60 for women. You must apply in order to receive a pension.
Since 1991, an international agreement between Austria and the United States has been in effect, which helps people who would otherwise not be eligible for monthly retirement, disability or survivor benefits under the Social Security system of one or both countries. Specifically, the agreement allows you to add together your Social Security credits earned in both countries if you would otherwise be unable to meet the basic requirements for receiving retirement benefits (please note that receiving Austrian retirement benefits might affect your U.S. benefits). In order to have your credits added together, you need at least 12 months of coverage credited under the Austrian system (if you apply in Austria) or 18 months of coverage credited under the U.S. system (if you apply in the U.S.).
If you receive an Austrian pension and your permanent residence is in Austria, you are covered by the Austrian state health insurance system. If your permanent residence is not in Austria, you are not covered by the health system.
Individuals living permanently in Austria and not covered by the state health system may get coverage by paying monthly fees (similar to being covered by a private insurance company). The waiting period is six months.
Bank transfer & Income tax
Austrian pensions (retirement benefits) paid by the state Pension Insurance Agency can also be transferred directly to the foreign bank account of the individual receiving the pension. An application is required for this.
Austrian pensions are subject to Austrian income tax. Due to the double taxation treaty between Austria and the United States, the pension is exempt from U.S. (federal) income tax.
Retroactive Pension Credits at Reduced Rate
Individuals who were persecuted on political, religious, and / or racial grounds (victims of Nazi persecution) between 4 March 1933 and 9 May 1945, emigrated and have faced socio-legal disadvantages (e.g. owing to their forced emigration from Austria, they were denied the right to make further contributions to the Austrian social security system) can retroactively buy pension credits for the time of emigration (up to 31 March 1959) at a reduced rate.
Individuals who had not contributed to the Austrian social security system at the time of their emigration from Austria, must both have been born on or before 12 March 1938 and have been living (permanent residence) in Austria on 12 March 1938 to be eligible for the retroactive purchase of pension credits. You can buy up to 180 months of credit (even if it then exceeds the time limit of 31 March 1959).
Both regulations shall guarantee that victims of (Nazi) persecution can acquire at least as many credits as are necessary to be eligible for an Austrian pension (which is 180 months of credit).
The application for the "Retroactive Purchase of Pension Credits" (Nachkauf) is to be forwarded to the Pension Insurance Agency. Further information can be obtained by directly contacting the Agency. The reduced rate for one month of credit is currently Euro 25.32 and will be adjusted annually.
In order to be eligible for victim relief benefits, you must have either been an Austrian citizen on 13 March 1938 or have lived uninterrupted in Austria for at least ten years prior to 13 March 1938. Furthermore, you must have suffered either physical injuries or serious disadvantages (e.g. emigration for more than 42 months, forced to wear the "Judenstern" for at least six months) due to your active resistance against the Nazi regime and / or due to political beliefs, religion, nationality or physical disabilities between 6 March 1933 and 9 May 1945. Widows, orphans, partners (common law spouses) and parents might also be eligible for benefits.
The right to victim relief benefits has been in place since 1 March 2002, even if you no longer hold Austrian citizenship (in such cases, however, no formal document, called an "Amtsbescheinigung", will be issued).
For detailed information regarding eligibility and benefits, please contact the Vienna City Department of Social Services (Department 15):
Schottenring 24, 1010 Wien
Phone: 01143 1 53114 87515
Fax: 01143 1 53114 99 87510
Nursing Care Allowance
Since 1 March 2002, individuals who left Austria on political, religious or racial grounds between 4 March 1933 and 9 May 1945, and who have not returned to Austria since, may have been eligible for nursing care allowance (Pflegegeld) if they receive retirement benefits or victim relief benefits from Austria. However, neither widows / widowers of Austrian victims nor their children are eligible.
The level of payment depends on the category of care, with "7" denoting the highest need. To be eligible, persons, on account of illness or old age, must rely on a caregiver to perform daily necessities such as shopping, cooking or bathing and the attendance needs must exceed more than 50 hours per month.
A medical examination is required; forms and further explanation of this "Pflegegeld-Gutachten" (medical assessment) can be obtained by contacting the Consulate.
"Certificate of Life" (Lebensbestätigung)
"Certificates of Life" provide evidence that an individual living abroad and receiving Austrian social security benefits is still alive and therefore eligible to receive further payments of benefits. "Certificates of Life" must be forwarded to the Pension Agency in Austria once or twice a year.
In general, individuals who need a "Certificate of Life" should both come in person to the Austrian Consulate and show a picture ID to a consular agent who can then authenticate the "Certificate of Life" form. However, if the individual cannot come to the Consulate (due to e.g. illness, distance, etc.), a notary public may also authenticate (notarize) the "Certificate of Life" form.