PENSION & BENEFIT ENTITLEMENTS
Frequently Asked Questions
What are my pension and benefit entitlements if I live in Spain?
UK State Pensions as well as some other benefits are payable in Spain. For some benefits, you will have to have been in receipt of them before you left the UK for Spain. These are:
Contribution-based Jobseekers Allowance
Statutory Maternity Pay
Statutory Sick Pay
Winter Fuel Allowance
Severe Disablement Allowance
For others, you can apply for them even if you are already living in Spain:
Contribution-based Employment Support Allowance (replaced Incapacity Benefit from October 27th 2008)
Industrial injuries Disablement Benefit
- Disability Living Allowance (Care component)
UK Child Benefit
Other benefits, particularly those that are means-tested, are not payable abroad. These include some Income Support, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Disability Living Allowance (mobility component).
If you’re concerned about how moving abroad will affect your benefits, you should contact the International Pension Centre (IPC) in the UK as they’ll be able to advise you on your specific case.
Why should I tell the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that I am moving to Spain?
You need to inform DWP of any changes to your personal circumstances (e.g. address, marriage, death) within 28 days. This will help to prevent any problems with your claim or payments and ensure that you get the correct entitlement. It will also help you to get the right access to healthcare in Spain.
If you move without telling the DWP, you may find that your pension or benefit is stopped. Tell your GP the date you and your family left the UK to live abroad as you won’t be eligible for routine medical treatment under the NHS during the return trips to the UK.
What is the INSS?
The INSS is the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social, or National Institute for Social Security and is responsible for social security matters in Spain. If you have ever worked in Spain, they should be your first port of call for any pension or benefit claim. You will also need to contact them in order to register an E121, E106 or to get a Spanish European Health Insurance Card (see healthcare section).
Where do I apply for my pension?
The rule of thumb is, you should normally apply to the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social (INSS), but only if you have worked in Spain at some point. The INSS will then inform the UK that you have claimed and you will not have to make a second application to the UK. In other circumstances claimants:
- living in Spain but how have never worked here – apply through the UK;
- living in UK and have worked in the UK and Spain – apply through UK;
- living in Spain, have worked in UK and Spain – apply through Spain;
- living in Spain and who have worked in Spain and more than one other EU country – apply through Spain.
On the application form you’ll be able to include time spent working in other countries. Where you apply will not affect the amount of pension you receive. The Spanish pension claim form can be collected from any INSS office and online.
Can I apply for other Spanish benefits it I have worked here?
If you have worked and contributed to the social security system in Spain, you may be entitled to claim a Spanish benefit. If you last worked in Spain, you must apply for any benefits through the INSS, although you may be able to include time spent working in other EU countries on the application form to increase your entitlement, for example unemployment benefit.
Do I have to claim my State Pension the moment I reach State Pension age?
No. You have the option of deferring your claim until a later date. State Pension deferral simply means putting off claiming your State Pension when you reach State Pension age, or you could also choose to stop claiming it after you have already claimed it. This allows you to build up extra income or a taxable lump-sum payment.
My pension has been stopped and I don’t now why.
Contact the International Pension Centre (IPC) to find out. Check that they have your correct address as they may have tried to contact you and you didn’t respond. If you need to complete a Life Certificate, you will need to have it witnessed at your closest Consulate, Court or Notary.
How will the Pension Reform Act affect me?
If you reach State Pension Age before the 6 April 2010 you will not be affected by the Pension Reform Act. If you reach State Pension age after this date then you need to know that:
There will be a reduction in the number of qualifying years needed to be eligible for a full basic State Pension. You will need 30 years of contributions to qualify for a full State Pension;
People who don’t qualify for a full State Pension will get 1/30th of the full pension for each year of their contribution;
Women’s State Pension age will gradually increase from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020 depending on the year you were born;
State Pension age for men and women will gradually increased from 65 to 68 between 2024 and 2046.
To find out what date you will qualify for a UK State Pension, look at the Pension Service’s State Pension age calculator.
I am living in Spain but pay tax on my pension in the UK. Should I be paying my taxes in Spain?
You can contact HMRC +44 151 210 2222 or www.hmrc.gov.uk if you want to discuss tax, residence and domicile enquiries. If you need a certificate certifying you have paid your tax in the UK so you do not have to pay in Spain, you can contact your local Consulate.
Can I get Pension Credit if I live in Spain?
No. Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit separate to the State Pension and is not exportable.
Can I make voluntary contributions in the UK / Spain?
Generally, if you have paid contributions in the UK you’ll be able to make voluntary contributions.
Usually these contributions can only be made for any year, in the previous 6 years, where insufficient contributions have been paid. However, new rules introduced in April 2009 mean anyone reaching State Pension age between 6th April 2008 and 5th April 2015, and who already has at least 20 years of contributions, will be able to pay voluntary contributions for any 6 years dating back to 1975. However, each case is dictated by individual circumstances so contact the HMRC for more details.
You can qualify to pay voluntary contributions in Spain if you have a 3-year contribution record from any EU Member State during the last 12 years.
Why have some people been able to export the Winter Fuel Allowance to Spain?
Winter Fuel Allowance is only payable after you have moved to Spain if you’ve been eligible for it at least once whilst living in the UK. It is not linked to the UK State Pension.
Is there any help available to me in Spain if I am bereaved?
In the event of the death of a spouse or civil partner, you may be entitled to some form of bereavement benefit although entitlement does depend on certain criteria.
If your late spouse or partner last worked in the UK and you were under state pension age when they died, you may be eligible for a Bereavement Payment, a £2000 tax-free lump sum. You must apply to the IPC for this within 12 months of the death. In addition you may be eligible for either a Bereavement Allowance or a Widowed Parent’s Allowance, a regular payment for up to 52 weeks which you must apply for within 3 months of the death. If, however, your late spouse or civil partner last worked in Spain you may be eligible for Bereavement Benefit (Pension de Viudedad) from Spain and should contact the INSS to apply.
If you were in receipt of a UK State Pension when your spouse or civil partner died, you may be entitled to an increase in your State Pension payments. Contact the IPC for more information.
Can I get Disability Living Allowance in Spain?
You can get Disability Living Allowance (care component), Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance in Spain as long as you meet the following conditions:
You pay National Insurance contributions in the UK because of your work or you are a dependent family member of someone who does; or
You are eligible to receive a UK State Pension, Bereavement Benefit or UK sickness benefit; or
You are a dependent of some who is eligible to receive a UK sickness benefit.
On the date of your claim, you had spent 26 out of the previous 52 weeks in the UK.
For more information please go to www.directgov.uk
If I’m not entitled to Disability Living Allowance, is there any other help available to me?
The Spanish Government is currently introducing a new law (Ley de Dependencia) across the country to provide more help to those who are dependent on others and their carers. If you have been a legal resident in Spain for 5 years, you may be entitled to services such as home help, access to day centres or economic help as a carer under this new law. Contact the social worker at your local town hall for more details of the services currently available in your area. Social Services will be able to advise on any other means-tested benefits that you might be entitled to.