A guide to Belgian pensions and your entitlements
Who can claim a pension in Belgium? This guide explains pension rates, who is entitled, taking early retirement and managing your pension in Belgium.
If you live and work in Belgium as a foreigner, you may be entitled to a Belgian pension if you meet certain conditions. This guide explains how to find out if you are entitled to a Belgian pension and how to calculate how much you will receive. Salvatore Orlando, head of expatriates at BNP Paribas Fortis, explains how the Belgian pension system works below.
Who is entitled to a Belgian pension?
To qualify for a Belgian state pension, you must have been employed in Belgium with an employer who paid contributions to the Belgian National Office for Social Security (RSZ). Self-employed workers can also claim a Belgian pension under similar conditions. You can read more about social security rates in our guide to Belgian social security.
Retirement age in Belgium
Currently, payment of a state retirement pension (rustpensioen) begins when you are 65 years of age and have worked a minimum of 40 years throughout your career. However, the government recently agreed to raise the retirement age to 66 in 2025 and to 67 in 2030 (both for men and women).
Pension rates: How much will my Belgian pension be?
Your pension will be based on how many years you have worked and how much you have earned.
The National Pensions Office (RVP) will calculate the amount you will receive based on your average wage over your career, converting past salaries to what they would be worth today. A single person will usually receive 60 percent of the average wage, and a married person 75 percent.
To calculate your approximate pension, you can use these formulas:
- Single person or person who is part of a double-income couple: 1/45 x 60 percent x gross annual wage
- Man/woman with a spouse who has no income: 1/45 x 75 percent x gross annual wage
Pensioners in Belgium are also entitled to a holiday allowance, which is paid each May. This amounts to approximately EUR 885 for pensioners who are married and EUR 710 for a single person.
Note that if you have any additional professional income while receiving a state pension, your pension may be reduced or stopped,.
Supplemental pensions in Belgium
As living entirely from your state pension is not realistic, there are options for supplemental pensions. One option is an occupational pension scheme, in which company pension plans are administrated via an insurance company. Previously, the law dictated that occupational pension plans guaranteed minimum returns of 3.75 percent on employee contributions and 3.25 percent on employer contributions. On 1 January 2016, a new law changed this, and there is no longer a fixed rate.
Another option is a private pension plan, which you can organize with your bank or insurance company. This kind of pension enables you to take your retirement savings into your hands, while you still qualify for a state pension. You can make contributions to your pension plan, growing your savings with interest until you are ready to retire. The contributions can be deducted on your income tax return.
Pension plans for the self-employed are also available via banks or insurance companies. You can determine how much you contribute and how often, and premiums are tax deductible.
Early retirement in Belgium
You qualify for early retirement if you have been made redundant and are entitled to unemployment benefits, or if you are 60 but can prove you have worked a minimum number of years (35) throughout your career based on a collective bargaining agreement.
In Belgium, the gap between the actual retirement age and the official retirement age is larger than in most other European countries. The average age for men is 58.5, and for women 56.8. The government has been trying to close this gap by making changes to tax rates on pensions. Those who retire at 60 are taxed at 20 percent, which is 3.5 percent higher than the rate for a 65 year old. There is even a rate of 10 percent if you retire on 65 and stayed professionally active.
Survival pension in Belgium
In the case of one spouse passing away, the surviving partner qualifies for a survival pension (overlevingspensioen) provided they are at least 45 years old. If they are younger than 45, they can still receive a survival pension if they have a child or are 66 percent or more disabled. If neither condition is met, a temporary (usually up to one year) pension is granted.
If the deceased already received a retirement pension, the surviving partner qualifies for 80 percent of that pension. If the deceased was not receiving a pension, the surviving partner receives 80 percent of what that pension would have been had the deceased lived to retirement age (but based on their average wage at time of death).
This type of pension stops when the recipient remarries or starts receiving a pension of his or her own.
Applying for a Belgian pension
If you live in Belgium, you do not have to apply for your pension. Rather, the National Pensions Office (RVP) will contact you one year before your retirement is set to kick in. If you qualify for a Belgian pension but live in European Economic Area country, you can download the application here and send it application to
Rijksdienst voor Pensioenen
Bureau voor Internationale Overeenkomsten
Zuidertoren 1060 Brussel
Belgium has bilateral conventions with regard to pensions in the following countries: Algeria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Democratic Republic Congo, Croatia, India, Israel, Japan, Macedonia, the Philippines, South-Korea, Morocco, San Marino, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States, Uruguay, Yugoslavia. If you reside in any of these countries, you must submit your pension application to whichever institution is responsible for pensions in your current home country. Be sure you mention the bilateral conventions.
In this respect the bilateral conventions with have to be mentioned.
Pensions ombudsman: In case of disputes
If you have concerns or complaints about the pension process, you can contact the Pension Mediation Service (Service de médiation Pensions) at:
Salvatore Orlando, head of expatriates / BNP Paribas Fortis / Expatica
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