A Look at the Belgian Pension System

a look at the belgian pension systemIf you are moving abroad to live and work in Belgium you may be wondering what you will do once you reach retirement age. If you are working in Belgium as an employee of a Belgian company or as a self employed person that you are required to pay in compulsory contributions to the state.

The contributions are split into funds for old age and invalidity pensions. Even as an expatriate living and working in Belgium, you are required to pay into the funds which means that once you retire you will have access to those pension funds regardless of your resident status.

As a worker in Belgium, regardless of your resident status, around 16 percent of your gross income goes towards your pension. This 16 percent is actually split between contributions from your employer and from you. If you end up on unemployment your contributions continue with the unemployment agency making contributions on your behalf.


If you want to claim your old age pension you will first have to reach age 65. You will also have to have made contributions into the fund for a certain period of time, which is currently 45 years. If you have been making contributions to a pension fund in another European Union country then EU regulations state that those contributions be taken into account when figuring your eligibility in Belgium. Belgium also has some reciprocal agreements in effect with non European Union countries, like the United States, that allow you to receive partial or full credit for any contributions you may have made in one of those countries. You should check with your local consulate to see if there is a reciprocal pension agreement if you are in a non European Union country.

Note that women in Belgium are allowed to retire at age 60 with only 40 years of contributions to their pension fund. It is expected that by 2009 that this difference may be phased out. If you wish to retire at age 60 after that period you may be asked to draw off of a bridging pension until you reach age 65. A bridging pension is a private retirement pension, similar to a regular pension only not managed by the state.

If you are wondering what type of payout you can expect to receive from your pension in Belgium it will be 75 percent of your lifetime wages if you have a dependent spouse. Otherwise it will be 60 percent of your lifetime wages.

Note that it can take up to a year to get your paperwork processed, so you should apply for your pension a year in advance at your local commune administrative office. If you have made contributions in other countries the verification process can make it take even longer, so submit your application accordingly.

Pension payments are made monthly and are direct deposited into your bank account. You are allowed to work past age 65 if you choose, but your pension payment will likely be reduced.