The official language in Austria is German. Thus, any letters sent to Austrian Social Security Institutions should be written in German (if you write in English, your request/application may not be dealt with immediately because it will be sent to a translation agency first). Please be aware that any information and forms you may receive from Austria will also be in German. If you are unable to understand (the content of) any documents you receive from Austria, please contact the Embassy. If you call (please bear in mind the time difference), please be prepared to speak German or have someone nearby who can speak and understand German.
On January 1, 2003, the two Austrian Pension Agencies for blue-collar employees and for white-collar employees merged into the newly established "Austrian Pension & Retirement Agency." If you have any questions, please contact either the main office or the branch office, both located in Vienna at the same address.
In order to receive an Austrian state pension, you need to have paid your contributions for at least 180 months. The retirement age for men is 65, for women it is 60 years. You must apply first in order to receive your pension.
Since 1991, an international agreement between Austria and the United States was signed which helps people who would otherwise not be eligible for a monthly pension, disability or survivors benefits under the Social Security system of one or both countries. The agreement allows individuals to add up your Social Security credits earned in both countries if you would otherwise not meet the basic requirements for receiving retirement benefits (please note that receiving Austrian retirement benefits might affect your US benefits). In order to have your credits added up, you need at least 12 months of contributions credited under the Austrian system (if you apply in Austria) or 18 months of contributions credited under the US system (if you apply in the US).
If you are drawing retirement benefits (pension) in Austria and also have your permanent address registered in Austria, you will be covered by public Austrian health insurance. If your permanent address lies outside of Austria, you will not be covered by the health system.
Austrian permanent residents who are not covered by the public health system may get coverage by paying monthly fees (similar to being covered by a private insurance company). The waiting period for admission is six months.
Bank transfer & income tax
If desired, Austrian pensions (retirement benefits) may also be transferred directly to a foreign bank account. For this to happen, an application is required.
Austrian pensions are subject to Austrian income tax. Due to the double taxation treaty between Austria and the United States, Austrian pension payments will be exempt from U.S. (federal) income tax if you reside in the US.
Purchasing pension credits at a reduced rate
Individuals who left Austria as the result of political, religious, and/or racial discrimination (e.g. victims of Nazi persecution) between March 4, 1933 and May 9, 1945, may retroactively buy pension credits at a reduced rate for the period of their time abroad (up to March 31, 1959) if they faced socio-legal disadvantages due to their emigration (e.g. being denied the right to make further contributions to the Austrian social security system).
Individuals who had not yet paid into the Austrian social security system at the time of their emigration from Austria must both have been born before or on March 12, 1938 and must have been registered as permanent residents in Austria on March 12, 1938 in order to be eligible to purchase pension credits retroactively. You may buy up to 180 months of credits (even if 180 credits exceed the time limit of March 31, 1959). Both regulations are designed to ensure that victims of (Nazi) persecution are able to acquire at least as many credits as are necessary to be eligible for an Austrian pension (which requires a minimum of 180 months of contributions).
Please submit the application for a so-called "Nachkauf" (purchasing pension credits retroactively) to the Pension Insurance Agency. Further information may be obtained from the agency directly. The reduced rate to purchase one month of credits currently amounts to €25.32 and will be adjusted annually.
In order to be eligible for victim relief benefits, you must either have been an Austrian citizen on March 13, 1938 or have lived in Austria for at least ten years without any interruption prior to March 13, 1938. Furthermore, you must have suffered from either physical injuries or serious disadvantages that resulted from your active resistance against the Nazi regime and/or your political beliefs, religion, nationality, or physical disabilities between March 6, 1933 and May 9, 1945 (e.g. emigration for more than 42 months, forced to wear the "Judenstern" for at least six months). Widows, orphans, partners (common law spouses), and parents may also be eligible for benefits.
Since March 1, 2002, individuals have been eligible for victim relief benefits even if you no longer hold Austrian citizenship. (in such cases, however, no "Amtsbescheinigung" will be issued).
Since March 1, 2002, individuals who left Austria due to their political, religious, or ancestral affiliation between March 4, 1933 and May 9, 1945 and who have not returned to Austria since then may be eligible to receive a nursing care allowance (Pflegegeld) if they are also drawing retirement benefits or victim relief benefits from Austria. However, widows or widowers of Austrian victims as well as their children are not eligible.
The amount of payments depends on the category of care, "7" being the highest. To be eligible, individuals must proove that they need the help of a caregiver to perform daily activities, such as shopping, cooking or bathing, and the required amount of assistance must exceed 50 hours per month.
A medical examination is required; forms and further information on this so-called Pflegegeld-Gutachten (medical eligibility assessment for the approval of a nursing care allowance) may be obtained by contacting the Embassy.
"Certificate of Life" (Lebensbestätigung)
"Certificates of Life" provide proof that the individual both living abroad and receiving Austrian social security benefits is still alive and therefore eligible to receive further payments of benefits. "Certificates of Life" must be forwarded to the Pension Agency in Austria once or twice a year.
In general, individuals who need a "certificate of life" should come to an Austrian Embassy/Consulate in person and present a picture ID to a consular agent who will then authenticate the "Certificate of Life" form. However, if the individual cannot come to the Embassy (due to e.g. illness, distance, etc.), a notary public may as well authenticate (notarize) the "Certificate of Life" form.
Embassy of Austria
3524 International Court, NW
Washington, D.C., 20008
Consulate Office Hours:
Monday through Friday,10.30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
(except on Austrian and U.S. holidays )