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Regardless of whether or not you are gainfully employed, you must pay contributions consistently to Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance (OASI), Invalidity Insurance (IV), Compensation for Loss of Earnings (LEC) and – for employees – to Unemployment Insurance (ALV), in order to be eligible for a full OASI pension when you come to retire. Employed persons must make contributions from 1 January following their 17th birthday until the standard retirement age (64 for women and 65 for men), or until they leave their job, in the event that they work beyond the standard retirement age. Those who are not employed must make contributions from 1 January following their 20th birthday until the standard retirement age. Gaps in contributions result in a reduction in the OASI pension. If you miss a year’s contribution, your pension will in principle be reduced by at least 2.3%. The contributions of persons who are not employed are deemed to be fully paid, provided their spouse or their registered partner is gainfully employed, and that his or her contributions – together with those of his or her employer – amount to at least twice the minimum contribution (2 x CHF 478 = CHF 956).
You need to pay special attention to avoid gaps in contributions, in particular
You may request a detailed account statement in writing or via Internet (see link below) to check if you have any gaps in contributions. The statement should allow you to identify any gaps in contributions. You may request a correction from the compensation office within 30 days of the date on which the statement was issued.
You can close gaps by paying the missing contributions. This is only possible, however, for gaps in periods during which you were insured in Switzerland and which occurred in the last five years. It is not possible to make up for missed payments from an earlier date.
If there are gaps in contributions due to your employer’s failure to pay contributions to the compensation office, you must be able to prove that you did indeed work and that your employer deducted the OASI contributions from your wages during the period concerned. If the proof is accurate, the missing contributions will be credited to your account, even if the pension fund office is unable to collect the contributions from your former employer.
Contact the compensation office that was responsible for collecting your contributions when the gaps occurred, or the compensation office that currently collects your contributions. You will need to provide documents (e.g. salary certificates and statements), as proof of your salary.
Swiss and EU/EFTA citizens who relocate to a country outside the EU/EFTA, may join the voluntary OASI/IV. To do so, they must have been insured with the compulsory OASI/IV/EO/(ALV) insurance for five years, and they must apply within a year of having been insured to the Swiss representation (embassy or consulate) responsible for their place of residence or to the Swiss compensation office in Geneva. Voluntary OASI/IV requires contributions amounting to 9.8% of your income. Spouses, registered partners and children of persons with a voluntary OASI/IV insurance are not automatically insured, and need to be insured independently.
If you are not employed, your contributions are considered to be paid, provided your spouse or registered partner is employed and made contributions of at least CHF 1,828 per year. Insured persons who are not employed pay a contribution based on the investment and retirement incomes. The minimum contribution for voluntary insurance is CHF 914 per year, and the maximum contribution, CHF 22,850 per year. For more details, see factsheet: ‘10.02 - Voluntary Old Age, Survivors' and Invalidity Insurance.’
Foreign nationals from countries with which Switzerland has not concluded a social security agreement may reclaim the paid OASI contributions if they leave Switzerland permanently. Repayment includes the shares paid both by the employee and by the employer, but does not include interest rates. Certain conditions must be observed for the repayment of OASI contributions.