Social Security

The Belgian social security system

Social Security

Belgium has a comprehensive system of social security, which applies to all residents.

It covers family benefits, unemployment insurance, work accident insurance, health care, old age and invalidity pensions, and long-term care insurance.


All employees and self-employed people in Belgium are automatically enrolled in their respective state social security system, and benefits extend in most cases to family members, i.e. spouse, children and other dependent family members in the household. Even non-family members, e.g. an au pair, can be covered under certain circumstances. Special rules apply to students, trainees and apprentices if they aren’t included in their parents’ cover. Those drawing wage replacement benefits (unemployment, disability or old age pensions) continue to be covered by social security. The benefits authority makes the ‘employer’ contributions, and the ‘employee’ contributions are deducted from the benefits you receive.

Social security agreements exist between Belgium and many other nations, including all EU countries and the USA, whereby expatriates may remain under their home country’s social security scheme for a period. If you qualify for ‘non-resident’ tax status, you may be able to continue making social security contributions in your home country while working temporarily (i.e. for up to five years) in Belgium. EU nationals must obtain forms E101 and E111 from their home country. Americans should be aware that US social security agreements cover pensions only, and that medical and some survivor benefits (particularly Medicare) aren’t payable to those living outside the USA.

If you or your spouse work in Belgium but are insured through the social security system of another EU country, you can claim social security benefits from that country. If you wish to claim benefits in Belgium, your contributions to the foreign scheme are taken into account when calculating your eligibility. Contact your country’s social security administration for information. An information guide entitled Your Social Security Rights When Moving Within the EU is available on the European Union website .


In Belgium, 13.07 per cent of employees’ salary is withheld and a further 33 per cent of salary contributed by employers. The 3 per cent ‘crisis surcharge’ also contributes to social security funding.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in in Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg from Survival Books.

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