The OASI pension in Switzerland in 2019: the latest figures and frequently asked questions

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On 1 January 2019, the old age and survivors‘ insurance (OASI) and invalidity insurance (IV) pensions in Switzerland were adjusted in line with changes in wages and the price index. Below is an overview of the most important updated figures and the answers to the most frequently asked questions on OASI pensions, such as how you can fill any gaps in your contributions or whether postponing your retirement makes financial sense.

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OASI pension

1st pillar: Latest OASI pension figures

  • Since 1 January 2019, the minimum OASI pension has been CHF 1,185 a month for people paying the full contribution – representing an increase of CHF 10.
  • The maximum OASI pension for those paying contributions for the full period has been increased by CHF 20 to CHF 2,370.
  • For married couples, the upper limit (ceiling) is now CHF 3,555, up by CHF 30.
  • For the self-employed and those not in gainful employment, the minimum contribution for OASI, IV and loss of earnings compensation (LEC) has gone up by CHF 5 to CHF 428 per year, the minimum contribution for voluntary OASI/IV by CHF 8 to CHF 922. The maximum contribution for OASI, IV and LEC has risen by CHF 200 for the same group of people and now stands at CHF 24,100.

Ten frequently asked questions on OASI pensions – find the answers here

1. Do OASI pensions take account of inflation every year?
No, OASI pensions are only adjusted to the current wage and price index every two years.

2. Are OASI pensions paid out automatically?
No, you can only receive OASI pension payments if you have registered with the competent compensation office, which you should do three months before your 64th birthday (for women) or your 65th birthday (for men). Doing so ensures that your pension is paid out on time.

3. Are all contribution years given equal weighting when calculating OASI pensions?
Contributions dating back a long time are adjusted to the current level using a factor that accounts for inflation. What‘s interesting is that the final contribution year is not factored in at all when calculating the pension. This means that pension holders born in December pay OASI contributions for twelve months without ever benefiting from them.

4. Does postponing my retirement make financial sense?
When you delay drawing your OASI pension, it increases significantly. If you work for one more year after reaching the official retirement age, your OASI pension will increase by 5.2%. If you work for a whole five more years, your pension can even increase by around one third. Married couples whose pension limits have ceilings will benefit from precisely calculating what will happen if they postpone their retirement.

5. Do you still have to pay into an OASI pension fund if you are not earning anything?
Full-time parents, students or people of independent means all have to pay OASI contributions. Those in employment start paying contributions on 1 January following their 17th birthday, while everyone else starts to pay the year they turn 21.

6. Can contribution gaps be filled?
If any contribution years are missed, the OASI pension will be reduced pro rata. Men need to have contributed for 44 years to avoid any gaps, while women only need to have done so for 43. Gaps can arise, if, for example, you were employed outside of Switzerland for a time or you failed to contribute at least the minimum OASI amount while you were studying. Missing OASI contributions can be back-paid within five years. Even after this deadline, however, gaps are not inevitable: specifically, if you had already paid OASI contributions before you turned 21, the compensation office will use them to fill any possible gaps.

7. Can you only afford to take early retirement if you have earned a lot of money?
If you draw your OASI pension one year early, your future pension will drop by 6.8% or by 13.6% if you do so two years early. To offset this reduction, which will apply throughout your retirement, you will need to ensure in advance that you have enough funds available. However, early retirement is also an option for low earners as they are often entitled to supplementary benefits. These can be claimed before you even start drawing your pension and can help to make up for your reduced pension payments. N.B.: if you retire early, you will continue to pay OASI contributions until you reach the official retirement age unless your spouse is still in employment. In this case, your spouse will pay the contributions for both of you.

8. When am I entitled to supplementary benefits and helplessness allowance?
Pension holders are entitled to supplementary benefits from the state if their OASI or IV pension payments are insufficient or are only just enough to cover their fundamental needs. These supplementary benefits are intended to ensure that the person’s minimum living costs are covered if their OASI pension and other sources of income are not enough to do so. People are often entitled to supplementary benefits if their total incomings are only marginally higher than their total outgoings.

9. What happens to the OASI pension if a spouse dies?
If a spouse dies, the OASI pension of the other spouse is recalculated. They then receive an OASI pension as if they were single but get an additional widow‘s or widower‘s supplement of 20%.

10. How can I make sure that my employer is paying OASI contributions?
It is worth ordering a statement of your individual OASI account every five years or so to be sure that your employer is also actually transferring the OASI contributions automatically deducted from your salary to the compensation office. If you discover any gaps, you must notify the OASI pension fund within 30 days. Nevertheless, the insured person is responsible for providing evidence in this case, meaning that all payslips would have to have been kept in a safe place in case of an emergency.

Further information can be found on our overview pages on the topics of retirement and pension.

Maintaining your usual standards of living with private pensions

Even combined with the income from your pension fund (2nd pillar), OASI pensions are rarely enough to maintain your usual standards of living from before retirement. Those with high incomes are thus particularly reliant on 3rd-pillar private pensions as they encounter an especially severe financial disparity in retirement. MoneyPark will analyse your personal situation in detail and discuss your financial desires and goals for the period following your retirement together with you.

Find out more about MoneyPark’s pension planning advice here.

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