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Social Security in Spain

Every person who works for a registered company in Spain is required to have a Social Security Number, called a número de afiliación de la Seguridad Social. Social Security is generally paid for by an employer, though small businesses and their employees will have to pay the fee, which varies by region, each month. This number also helps track pensions, unemployment and sick days.

Most workers fall under the “General Scheme,” which includes employees who work under another person, working partners of capitalist companies, civil servants and military personnel and foreign-born residents who work in Spain. Once a citizen is made active in the system, they are covered for life.

Members of the European Union states, spouses or family of Spanish citizens will not need to present a work permit to become affiliated with the Social Security system; those who do not meet with aforementioned requirements will be asked to present some form of a work permit to gain access to the social security system.

The system also covers self-employed workers.

How to get a Social Security Card

Each major capital has Social Security offices, typically open Monday – Friday from 9:00 – 14:00.  By filling out a form and presenting your original and a photocopy of a passport or another form of ID, you will be given a número de afiliación de la seguridad social.

To find your local office, use a phone book and look under “Oficinas de la Segridad Social” or the office locater on the website (Spanish language online). You can search by autonomous region, or by zip code.

The documentation required are:

  • Passport or Foreign Resident Card
  • A copy of Passport or Foreign Resident Card
  • Form TA-1

The form, TA-1, is available only in Spanish and Spain’s co-languages of Basque, Catalàn, Galego and Valencià. It can be downloaded here. The forms are not available in English; translation follows below:

Section 1: Personal data

1.1 : First Surname / Second Surname (if applicable) / First name
1.2 : Gender (M for female, V for male)
1.3 Type of ID (mark with an X): Spanish DNI number / Foreigner’s Card / Passport
1.4 Number of identification document
1.5 Social Security number (if applicable)
Date of birth / father’s full name / mother’s full name
place of birth / province of birth / country of birth
1.6 Disability (if applicable) / nationality /maiden name (if applicable)
1.8 Street Address
1.9 Email address /option to have information sent my text message / Mobile phone number

Section 2: Relevant Social Security Data

Mark with an X : Activation of Social Security / Number Assignment for Social Security / Change in data

2.1: Cause for data change (if marked X)
2.2 Listing of any accompanying documentation

Section 3: Option to have data sent to a second address added for communication purposes

At the bottom left, the solicitor must, write the place and date, then sign in this format:

En Madrid, el 15 de junio de 2012

While this number is active for health care immediately, you will not start earning days for your pension until you are employed. This number is valid for life and recognized throughout Spain and its autonomous cities in Africa.

What’s covered under Social Security

The Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social covers all matters related to social security. Their Madrid headquarters can be found at:

C/Padre Damián, 4 y 6. 28036 MADRID
Tel: 91 564 04 84

The system benefits all workers who are active in the system. Each calendar day that a worker has been employed counts towards pension and unemployment benefits, so be sure to check that your place of work has given you the activation, called an alta.

The major responsibilities of the system are:

Retirement and pensions: Because of Spain’s aging population and slower rate of birth, the system’s biggest concern is the administration of pensions to the 8.6 million pensioners in the country and its autonomous cities. The process of earning days towards retirement is called cotizar. For each día cotizado, or worked day, the worker earns back a percentage of the pension. Workers do not receive full benefits untl the have reached 365 días cotizados.

The current retirement age for workers is 67 (miners, farmers, fisherman and loggers are allowed to retire at 58).

Disability: Social Security also covers disability pay for non-threatening injuries, permanent disability and injuries acquired on the job.

Motherhood and Fatherhood: Under law, both mothers and fathers are entitled to paid days off for the birth of each offspring. Mothers are allowed around 90 days, plus an hour a day for feeding until the child is 12 months old;  a father is allowed 15 days from the date of birth. These arrangements are called maternidad and paternidad, and could vary by region.

Death and Survival: Help is provided for both death and family members. Note that civil unions, called pareja de hecho,  have a different set of rules. Contact a lawyer in the case of death and survival to know your full rights in your region.

Public Health Care: In most regions, general doctor visits and emergency care are free. Prescriptions, surgeries and dental care are not covered under the social security umbrella and must be paid for after care has been administered. For more information, contact a social security office in your region.

Every autonomous region has its own regulations for the administration and compensation, so visit an office near you for more information about coverage, or ask a lawyer.

As members of the social security system, affiliates have the right to reclaim any believed wrongdoings or lack of proper financial attention through Centros de Atención e Información de la Seguridad Social (CAISS), through the offical webpage or by calling 900 16 65 65. Alternately, you could call Spain’s national omsbudperson hotline, by ddialing 060. Note that these services are only available in Spanish and Spain’s co-languages.

By Cat Gaa, who left her native Chicago five years ago to live in the olive groves of Andalusia. Residing in Seville, she teaches first grade at a private school, but all she wants to really do is write.