Pension (Retirement) & Social Security Issues
The official language in Austria is German. Thus, any letters sent to Austrian Social Security Institutions should be written in German (if you write in English, your request/application may not be dealt with immediately because it will be sent to a translation agency first). Please be aware that any information and forms you may receive from Austria will also be in German. If you are unable to understand (the content of) any documents you receive from Austria, please contact the Consulate per fax (310 477 9897) or e-mail: los-angeles-gk(at)bmeia.gv.at.
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.
Main Office / Branch Office VIENNA
Friedrich Hillegeist-Straße 1, 1021 Wien
Phone: 01143 503 030
Fax: 01143 50303 28850
E-Mail: pva(at)pva.sozvers.at or pva-lsw(at)pva.sozvers.at
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 ahead of time), 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 years. 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. If your permanent residence is outside the borders of Austria, you are not covered by the Austrian health system.
Individuals living permanently in Austria who are not covered by the public health system may get coverage by paying monthly fees (similar to being covered by a private insurance company). The waiting period for admission is six months.
C. Bank transfer & Income tax
If desired, Austrian pensions (retirement benefits) may also be transferred directly to a foreign bank account. For this to happen, an application is required.
Austrian pensions are subject to Austrian income tax. Due to the double taxation treaty between Austria and the United States, Austrian pension payments will be exempt from U.S. (federal) income tax if you reside in the US.
D. Retroactive Pension Credits at Reduced Rate
Individuals who left Austria as the result of political, religious, and/or racial discrimination (e.g. victims of Nazi persecution) between March 4, 1933 and May 9, 1945, may retroactively buy pension credits at a reduced rate for the period of their time abroad (up to March 31, 1959) if they faced socio-legal disadvantages due to their emigration (e.g. being denied the right to make further contributions to the Austrian social security system).
Individuals who had not yet paid into 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 must have been registered as permanent residents in Austria on March 12, 1938 in order to be eligible to purchase pension credits retroactively. You may buy up to 180 months of credits (even if 180 credits exceed the time limit of March 31, 1959). Both regulations are designed to ensure that victims of (Nazi) persecution are able to acquire at least as many credits as are necessary to be eligible for an Austrian pension (which requires a minimum of 180 months of contributions).
Please submit the application for a so-called "Nachkauf" (purchasing pension credits retroactively) to the Pension Insurance Agency. Further information may be obtained from the agency directly. The reduced rate to purchase one month of credits is 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 Federal Office for Social Affairs and Disabled Persons in Vienna:
Additional Information for Victims of National-Socialism and about Restitution can be found here.
Rehabilitation of victims of judicial system of 1930s
On 18 January 2012 the National Council passed a resolution to rehabilitate the victims of the judicial system of the 1930s with the votes of all five parliamentary parties. In accordance with the Revocation and Rehabilitation Act, judgements passed by regular criminal courts, special and drumhead courts martial in the period from 6 March 1933 to 12 March 1938 (the date of Austria’s “annexation” to Germany) are revoked. As a result, all persons are rehabilitated who had been sentenced, arrested and/or expatriated for fighting for an independent and democratic Austria. A special provision of the Act describes these judgments as unjust and pays respect to the victims of the judicial system. The scope of the law explicitly covers the expression of political opinion.
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 be 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)
"Confirmations of Being Alive" 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 Being Alive" must be forwarded to the Pension Agency in Austria once or twice a year.
In general, individuals who need a "Confirmations of Being Alive" should both come in person to an Austrian Consulate and show a picture ID to a consular agent who in turn authenticates the "Confirmations of Being Alive" 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 signature on the "Confirmations of Being Alive" form.