Social Security and Health Benefits in Portugal

Information on the Portuguese national health care system, with details on who benefits and where and how to register with the authorities and what contributions and benefits to expect...

Social Security benefits only apply to Portuguese nationals, qualifying European Union nationals, and those legally resident in Portugal as well as their spouses and dependents. Citizens of other countries should seek advice from their Embassy or Consulate regarding obtaining private insurance.

The social security system has three basic schemes:

  1. A contributory scheme for employed individuals and their families (for sickness, birth/adoption, disability, retirement, unemployment, death, work-related accidents or illness)
  2. A contributory scheme for self-employed individuals (for birth/adoption, disability, retirement, death; optional coverage for family as well as illness and work-related illness)
  3. A non-contributory scheme for those who do not meet the minimum income requirements to belong to either of the first two schemes (for disability, retirement, death and family)

All individuals registered for social security coverage are also covered for healthcare in Portugal. All healthcare benefits are administered by the Ministry of Health (Ministério de Saúde) while social security benefits (pensions, disability, maternity/paternity benefit, etc.) are administered by the Social Security Institute (Instituto da Solidariedade e da Segurança Social).

Contributions are made by both employer and employee. Employer contributions cover work-related accidents and occupational illness. The Portuguese government pays for healthcare coverage while the employee pays for other benefits including maternity, old-age pensions, and disability.

Healthcare Coverage

Once an individual begins working in Portugal and is registered with social security, they are automatically registered for healthcare coverage. Deductions for coverage are automatically taken from their pay and a healthcare card is issued by the local Ministry of Health. This healthcare card was known as the Livrete de Assistência Médica, is now called the card Cartão do Utente (service user card).

Visits to doctors and dentists at medical centres (Centros do Saúde) and hospitals (Hospitais Públicos) affiliated with the Ministry of Health are virtually free under the system. A small charge is paid for some consultations and treatments under a modest patient co-participation introduced a few years ago. The cost of necessary medication is partially covered, though pharmaceuticals deemed non-essential are not covered.

Registering with Social Security

Registration to obtain a social security number is done only once. The number issued is used throughout the holder's life.

To apply for a Social Security Card (Cartão de Segurança Social), contact a local office of the Social Security Institute.

The following documents will be required when registering with social security:

Employees must contact the Social Security Institute within 24 hours of beginning any new job in Portugal. This is to ensure that contributions are properly credited. This can be done via the internet, using Form RV1009-DGSS or in another written form. The notification must include:

  • the worker's full name
  • date of birth
  • nationality
  • residence status
  • social security number (if the employee has one)
  • professional category
  • location of workplace
  • start date of employment
  • name, address, social security and tax number of the employer
  • if the employee has never worked in Portugal before, this must be indicated
Employers are also required to report any new worker to the Social Security Institute.


European Union citizens who have made social security contributions elsewhere in the EU may be covered under reciprocal agreements. Contact the Social Security Institute (Instituto da Solidariedade e da Segurança Social) for further information.

Employees pay a percentage of their salary which varies from between 11 and 23.75 percent per month. The employer matches it with approximately twenty percent. The employer must complete Form RV1009/2009 (the employee should sign it) and it must be turned in to the Social Security Institute.

Self-employed workers currently pay between 25.4 and 32 percent per month, or up to 12 times the minimum national wage determined by the worker. A percentage must be deducted directly from the Green Receipt Book (Caderneta de Recibos Verdes) for each invoice issued. Payments can be made on a monthly basis via the Multibanco ATM system or at the Post Office (Correios de Portugal) and any differences between payments and the final calculation will be reconciled at the end of the tax year.

Social security affiliation is voluntary for self-employed workers whose gross yearly income is less than or equal to six times the national minimum wage, it is mandatory for those self-employed workers who earn more than six times the national minimum wage.

Payments must be made on or before the fourteenth of each calendar month, and can be made via the ATM Multibanco cash points (select Pagamentos ao Estado then Segurança Social and key in the details) or at the Post Office. Payments made after the sixteenth of the month are subject to interest.

Social Security Benefits

Contact the district Social Security Institute office to apply for maternity, paternity, adoption, grandparent, sickness and disability benefits.

Maternity (maternidade)

In order to be eligible for maternity benefit, mothers must have contributed and received social security coverage for at least six months prior to the birth.

Mothers can receive 100 percent of their average daily income for 120 days, 90 of which are to be taken after childbirth. The average daily income is calculated using the mother's salary for the six months prior to the two months before the birth. There is a minimum amount payable.

An additional 30 days is available for each multiple birth. Mothers can opt to take 150 days of leave, with the extra 30 days being taken after childbirth. In this case she will receive 80 percent of her average daily earnings. In certain instances, the 30 additional days may be shared with or given to the father. In the event of a miscarriage, 14 to 30 days of paid leave are available.

If their job normally requires them to work at night or in dangerous situations, pregnant women, women who have recently given birth and breastfeeding mothers are also entitled to a 65 percent maternity allowance, based on their average daily salary. The average daily income is calculated using the mother's salary for the six months prior to the two months before the birth.

Paternity (paternidad)

Working fathers are eligible for five days of paid paternity leave; they receive 100 percent of their average daily salary. The average daily income is calculated using the father's salary for the six months prior to the two months before the birth. This paid leave may be extended if the mother has medical complications, if the mother of the child dies or if the mother shares her maternity leave with the father. Self-employed fathers are not eligible for paternity leave.


    Adoption benefit is available for adoptive parents and paid at 100 percent of the adoptive parent's average daily salary for the first 100 days after the adoption of a child under 15 years of age. If two parents are adopting together, the leave may be shared between them. The average daily income is calculated using the salary of the adoptive parent for the six months prior to the two months before the adoption. An additional 30 days paid leave is granted for each additional adopted child.


      Paid leave is available to grandparents of babies born to individuals under the age of 16 who are living with the grandparent. The benefit is equal to 100 percent of the grandparent's average daily salary. The average daily income is calculated using the salary of the grandparent for the six months prior to the two months before the birth. This benefit is not available to the self-employed.

        Temporary sickness/incapacity (incapacidade temporária)

        A cash benefit is available for qualifying workers who are temporarily too ill or incapacitated to continue working. The self-employed may also be eligible for this benefit if their social security scheme includes it.

        In order to be eligible, the worker must have worked (and contributed to social security) for at least six months prior to the accident or sickness, and worked at least 12 days in the 4 months immediately preceding the incapacity. The self-employed and those voluntarily contributing to the social security system must have contributed until at least the end of the third month prior to the accident.

        The hospital or doctor treating the patient will provide a Temporary Incapacity Certificate (Certificado de Incapacidade Temporária por Estado de Doença - CIT). This must be sent to the Social Security Institute within five days of the patient's receipt. The Social Security Institute and the employer have the right to request subsequent medical assessments.

        Up to 75 percent of reference earnings (generally the salary paid in the six months prior to the incapacity divided by 180) will be paid, depending on the duration of the incapacity. Individuals with tuberculosis are entitled to a greater percentage.

        The Social Security website has more on sickness allowance

        A benefit is also available for those receiving temporary incapacity benefit who are not eligible due to absence from work for their employer's annual or Christmas holiday bonus. The benefit pays 60 percent of the missed bonus.

        Long-term sickness (invalidez)

        Qualifying workers suffering from a chronic illness (but not a work-related injury or illness) that makes them unable to work (such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, Parkinson's disease, etc.) may receive Incapacity Benefit (Invalidez).

        There are two types of invalidity classification, determined by the ability of the applicant to earn a salary.

        1. Relative/partial invalidity (invalidez relativa)
        2. Total invalidity (invalidez absoluta)

        Initially the incapacitated worker must receive Temporary Incapacity Benefit (Certificado de Incapacidade Temporária por Estado de Doença).

        After 1,095 days it is necessary to submit a Pedido de Pensão de Invalidez form RP 5072 DGSS which must include a declaration (Informação Médica, Mod. SVI 7-DGSS) signed by a doctor or a medical specialist.

        NB: The declaration Informação Médica, Mod. SVI 7-DGSS is not available for download online and can only be obtained in person at a Social Security Institute. Additional documentation may also be required depending on the circumstances surrounding the long-term disability.

        Disability benefits (incapacidade)

        A disability benefit is payable to qualifying individuals who are incapable of working due to work-related injury or illness.

        The monthly payment is 2 percent of the recipient's average annual salary for the highest-salaried 10 years out of the last 15, multiplied by the total number of qualifying calendar years. Or, if it results in a larger payment, an alternative calculation is 2 percent (2.35 percent for those with over 21 qualifying years) of the recipient's monthly average adjusted lifetime salary for every qualifying year up to 40 years. There are minimum and maximum payment amounts.

        The amount of any benefit depends on the nature and severity of the disablement or incapacity and the ability to work, either full time or part time.

        In order to apply for disability benefit, form RP 5073 DGSS as well as supporting documents must be submitted.

        Unemployment benefits (subsídio de desemprego)

        Employees who are made redundant or involuntarily unemployed are entitled to receive unemployment benefit of 65 percent of their salary for up to 900 days, depending on how long the recipient has contributed to the social security system as well as their age.

        It is possible to receive partial unemployment benefit if a part-time job is found.

        A Declaration of Unemployment Status (Declaração da Situação de Desemprego) form RP 50440DGSS must be submitted to a local Employment Centre within 90 days

        Self-employed workers are not entitled to Unemployment Benefit (Subsídio de Desemprego) if their business fails, but if they are unable to work because of serious illness and have paid Social Security contributions they may be entitled to Incapacity Benefit (Invalidez).

        There is no system of Income Support in Portugal. Self-employed people are recommended to take out private insurance.

        Pension benefits (pensão)

        Those who have made sufficient social security payments in Portugal may be eligible for a Portuguese pension.

        Those eligible for a foreign pension may receive it under bilateral agreements and still be eligible for a Portuguese pension.

        • To claim for an invalidity pension fill out Form RP 5002 DGSS (Questionário/Pedido de Pensão de Invalidez e de Velhice a Organismo Estrangeiro) if National Insurance Contribution payments have been made in your country of origin
        It is compulsory to declare income from all pension sources – company, private pension plans, and state pensions from other countries, which may be liable to taxation.