Social Security Benefits in Belgium

Find out about an individual's obligations and entitlements under Belgium's social welfare system...

The Belgian social security system expanded rapidly during the 1950s and 1960s. It includes healthcare, unemployment insurance benefits, child allowances, invalidity and disability benefits and pensions.

Essentially it is compulsory for people to be insured and rights are acquired by working. Those who are not working for whatever reason can obtain benefits via social assistance schemes. The government aims to ensure that everyone has at least a basic standard of living in terms of income and access to medical facilities.

Belgian Social Security

As soon as an individual begins work in Belgium (wherever he is from originally) the employer must take the necessary steps to ensure that the employee is covered by the national social security system. Social security contributions are deducted automatically from salary and are paid to the National Social Security Office (Office National de Sécurité Sociale,ONSS/Rijksdienst voor Sociale Zekerheid, RSZ).

The amount to be paid by an individual is calculated based on gross salary but is around 13 percent, employers' contributions account for over 34 percent. The balance is made up by state subsidies and more recently other sources such as a percentage of the income from VAT. Approximately 96 percent of the social security fund finances benefits for salaried workers, the rest is used to pay for benefits for the self-employed.

The overall social security fund is then divided up and managed by offices responsible for different types of benefit that fall into seven categories each dealt with below:

  • Family benefits
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Incapacity benefits
  • Accidents in the workplace
  • Occupational illnesses
  • Pensions
  • Annual paid holidays

In 2001 the Belgian government set up the Silver Fund. The aim of this fund was to ensure that funding was available to pay for the increasing costs of healthcare and pensions for an ageing population. Budget surpluses and any surpluses from the social security system go into this fund.

Temporary Postings

Anyone temporarily posted to Belgium for a period of less than 12 months is unaffected by Belgian social security as long as they are an EEA national or from a country which has an international social security treaty with Belgium.

However the employer must make a declaration when they employ such a person to work in Belgium, using a Limosa declaration form. Some workers are exempt from this depending on the type of work they do and the length of time they spend in Belgium.

Citizens should check with their own social security office before departure.