Economic Affairs, Employment and Social Security

Social Security


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Article 41 of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 provides that "public powers shall maintain a public regime of Social Security for all citizens such as to ensure sufficient assistance and social benefits in the face of hardship, particularly in the event of unemployment".

The State Secretariat of Social Security is the highest agency of the ministerial department, and runs and supervises the managing bodies and common services of the Social Security system; it promotes and manages the legal organisation of the Social Security system, and plans and supervises the management of the agencies that collaborate with the Social Security system (mutual funds for accidents at work, collaboration bodies and labour foundations) on a complementary basis to the actions of the Social Security system.

Social Security is among the institutions that stand highest in public esteem. The protection it affords, based on a constant search for an efficient and modernised management model, is the outcome of a collective effort first undertaken in 1883.

The renewal of the guiding principles of the Spanish social protection model led to the enactment of Royal Decree Law 36/1978, of 16 November, on institutional management of Social Security, health and employment, which, under the terms of the Moncloa Pacts, created a system of institutional participation involving social stakeholders and specified a new management system to be implemented by the following agencies:

  • The National Institute of Social Security (Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social) to manage economic benefits under the system.
  • The National Institute of Health (Instituto Nacional de Salud), to provide healthcare benefits (this body was later renamed the National Institute of Healthcare Management - Instituto Nacional de Gestión Sanitaria).
  • The National Institute of Social Services (Instituto Nacional de Servicios Sociales), to manage social services (this body was later renamed the Institute for the Elderly and Social Services - Instituto de Mayores y Servicios Sociales).
  • The Maritime Social Institute (Instituto Social de la Marina), to manage maritime workers.
  • The General Treasury of the Social Security (Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social), which acts as the single cash management operator of the system, operating under the principle of financial solidarity.

The contributory pensions of the system, obtained through previous contributions and funded by contributions from employers and workers, are currently as follows:

  • Retirement, permanent incapacity, widowhood, orphanhood and family pensions.
  • Temporary incapacity.
  • Other benefits for birth and early childhood care: maternity, paternity, risk during pregnancy, risk during breastfeeding, care of children with cancer or other serious illnesses.

The protective action of the system is completed by a series of non-contributory universal benefits for individuals who are not entitled to the former benefits and who lack financial means. These are funded entirely by State contributions.

The figures for August 2017 show that the monthly total paid out by the Social Security system for contributory pensions stood at 8.79 billion euros, a year-on-year rise of 3%.

The average retirement pension stood at 1,065.50 euros, 1.97% higher than for the same period last year. The average pension from the Spanish Social Security system as a whole, which includes all the various types of pension available (retirement, permanent disability, widowhood, orphanhood, and those paid out to relatives), stood at 922.17 euros, representing a year-on-year increase of 1.86%.