Pension (Retirement) & Social Security Issues
The Consulate would like to inform you that the official language of Austria is German. Thus, the Consulate recommends that any letter sent to Austrian Social Security Institutions should be written in German (if you write in English, your request/application will not be dealt with immediately but sent to a translation agency first). Be aware that any information and forms you receive will also be in German. If you need assistance in understanding (the content of) these letters, please contact the Consulate per fax [212 585 1992] or e-mail info(at)austria-ny.org.
A. Pension (Retirement Benefits)
On January 1, 2003, the two Austrian Pension Agencies for blue-collar employees and for white-collar employees merged to form the new "Austrian Pension & Retirement Agency." If you have any questions, please contact either the main office or the branch office, both located in Vienna at the same address.
Be advised that the official language spoken in Austria is German; thus, any requests and questions posed in German are more likely to be answered more quickly. If you call (remember: Vienna is six hours ahead), please speak German or have someone nearby who can speak and understand German.
In order to receive an Austrian state pension, you need at least 180 covered months. The retirement age for men is 65, for women it is 60 Jahren. You must apply for your pension.
Since 1991, there has been in effect an international agreement between Austria and the United States which helps people who, without the agreement, would not be eligible for monthly retirement, disability or survivors benefits under the Social Security system of one or both countries. Specifically, the agreement lets you add together your Social Security credits earned in both countries if otherwise you were not to meet the basic requirements for getting retirement benefits (please note that receiving Austrian retirement benefits might affect your US 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 US system (if you apply in the US).
B. Health Insurance
If you both receive an Austrian pension and have your permanent residence in Austria, you are covered by the Austrian state health insurance system. Is your permanent residence is outside the borders of Austria, you are not covered by the health system.
Individuals living permanently in Austria 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.
C. 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.
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.
D. Retroactive Pension Credits at Reduced Rate
Individuals, who were persecuted on political, religious, and/or racial grounds (victims of Nazi persecution) between March 4, 1933 and May 9, 1945, who emigrated, and who have faced socio-legal disadvantages (e.g. due 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 their time of emigration (up to March 31, 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 before or on March 12, 1938 and have been lived (permanent residence) in Austria on March 12, 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 March 31, 1959).
Both regulations shall guarantee that victims of (Nazi) persecution can acquire at least as many credits as there are necessary to be eligible for an Austrian pension (which is 180 months of credit).
The application for a "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 currently is Euro 25.32 and will be adjusted annually.
E. Victim Relief
In order to be eligible for victim relief benefits, you must either have been an Austrian citizen on March 13, 1938 or have lived in Austria uninterruptedly for at least ten years prior to March 13, 1938. Further, 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 March 6, 1933 and May 9, 1945. Widows, orphans, partners (common law spouses), and parents might also be eligible for benefits.
Since March 1, 2002, you have been eligible for victim relief benefits even if you do 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 for Social Services (Department 15)
Schottenring 24, 1010 Wien
Phone: 01143 1 53114 87515
Fax: 01143 1 53114 99 87510
F. Nursing Care Allowance
Since March 1, 2002, individuals who left Austria on political grounds, grounds of religion, or grounds of origin between March 4, 1933 and May 9, 1945 and who have not returned to Austria since might have been eligible for nursing care allowance (Pflegegeld) if they receive retirement benefits or victim relief benefits from Austria. However, widows or widowers of Austrian victims as well as their children are not eligible.
The amount of payments depends on the category of care, with "7" being 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, provided the attendance needs exceed more than 50 hours per month.
A medical examination is required; forms and further explanation for this so-called Pflegegeld-Gutachten (medical assessment) can be obtained by contacting the Consulate.
G. "Certificate of Life" (Lebensbestätigung)
"Certificates of Life" give evidence that the individual both 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 an Austrian Consulate and show a picture ID to a consular agent who in turn authenticates the "Certificate of Life" form. However, if the individual can not come to a Consulate (due to e.g. illness, distance, etc.), a notary public may as well authenticate (notarize) the "Certificate of Life" form.