Country profile: Belgium
The Belgian statutory pension system (pay-as-you-go) covers old-age and survivors risks. Itcomprises three schemes: a scheme for salaried workers in the private sector, a scheme for theself-employed and a scheme for civil servants. Pensioners who have paid contributions tomore than one of these three schemes receive a "mixed-career" pension. The retirement pension is determined on the basis of three elements: career, wages and family situation.
For both self-employed and private schemes, every worked year counts for 1/45
in thecalculation of the pension. The pensions can be combined with other revenues from professional activities (within a certain limit, however). The risk of invalidity is covered by aspecific scheme and at the statutory retirement age (65) people transit from the invalidity tothe old age pension scheme.The pensionable age is established at 65 years for both men and women (under all threeschemes). Until June 1997, the legal retirement age for women was 60, and for men 65.Women needed 40 years of salaried service for a full pension, men 45 years. To solve the problem of unequal treatment of men and women, a gradual equalisation of the pensionableage at 65 years and of the required career length was introduced. As of 1 January 2009 thelegal retirement age for both men and women is 65, and for both the career length is 45 yearsto be entitled to a full pension. Early pension take up remains possible without penalisationfor salaried workers of the private sector from age 60 but only on the condition of a 35-year career. Until 1991 pensions were reduced by 5% for each year below the pensionable age.Some kind of penalisation is still applicable for the pensions of the self employed. Except for civil servants, the legal retirement age is not compulsory. Pension is taken up on request of the retiree and can be taken up later.Pensions for workers and self-employed are calculated on the basis of the full contributorycareer and provide 60 % (for a single person) or 75 % (for a head of family) of the meanrevenues earned throughout the entire contributory career up to a certain wage ceiling. For this reason, no formal maximum pension is defined in the legislation: the pension will in practice be limited due to the application of the wage/income ceiling taken into account for the pension calculation. For civil servants however, pension rights are calculated on the basisof the income of the last five years before retirement (multiplied by the number of workedyears and divided by 60), while the family situation has no influence on the pension amount.For civil servants however, a maximum pension is applicable.A new scheme of "sectoral pensions" was introduced in 2003 (Law on the complementary pensions), in order to extend the second pillar of occupational pensions. Membership ismandatory at sector level, depending on collective agreements, but in those sectors where nocollective agreement is concluded, enterprises can voluntarily install a second pillar pension plan. Wherever such pension plans exist in execution of the Law of 2003, adherence iscompulsory for the entire workforce (of the firm or submitted to the sectoral collectiveagreement) and guaranteed by the employer. Complementary pensions are also accessible for
Pensioners (except civil servants) receive a supplementary family amount if they have to support a partner withno (or very low) pension entitlement. In the future this pension will be more and more frequently replaced bytwo pensions for single people because of higher participation of women in the labour market.