The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Social Security System in Spain

Spain's social security system

The Spanish social security system is contribution based. It began operating through a series of fragmented government and private schemes early in the 20th century. Since 1985 it has become largely a consolidated government run scheme under the auspices of the Department of Employment and Social Security (Ministerio de Empleo Y Seguridad Social).

Around 50% of workers are covered by the Regimen General de Seguridad Social (the General Social Security Scheme) - the post 1985 scheme. The remainder are covered by the S.O.V.I (Compulsory Old Age and Invalidity Insurance Schemes of 1939) or by special schemes such as those for maritime employees, coalminers, railway workers, authors, professional soccer players and bullfighters.

The Department of Employment and Social Security has its central administration in Madrid with sub-offices in all provinces.


The National Institute for Social Security - Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social (INSS) - administers age, invalid and survivors' pensions and death and sickness benefits under the general scheme. Other agencies administer these payments under the special schemes. The INSS central administration is in Madrid with provincial offices in each region, metropolitan offices in major provincial centres and regional offices in other provincial centres.

The National Employment Institute (Instituto Nacional de Empleo, INEM) administers, among its programs, unemployment benefits. It has central administration in Madrid and offices in each province.

The National Institute for Migrations and Social Services (IMERSO), which directs social assistance payments to emigrants abroad, is under the direction of the Sub-Secretariat for Labour and Social Affairs.

Spain's non-contributory payments

There is a safety net welfare system in Spain which pays means tested benefits to people in need who are either not affiliated to the contributory schemes or who have too few contributions to obtain benefits. The most common of these is the social pension. The benefits available are lower in rate than the contributory pensions and are usually only payable in Spain. IMERSO may arrange for these payments to be made abroad to emigrants in need. Normally this would not occur in Australia as the payments are usually only necessary in countries with no social security infrastructure.

The National Social Welfare Institute, under the direction of the Department of Employment and Social Security, is responsible for the provision of welfare benefits.

Act reference: SS(IntAgree)Act Schedule 5 Spain

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