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'Working abroad could affect your pension'

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'Working abroad could affect your pension'
17:05 CET+01:00
As Swedes are about to receive their yearly public pension prediction in the post, the authorities note there are ways to calculate pensions even if you have spent part of your career working abroad.

On February 11th, the Swedish Pensions Agency (Pensionsmyndigheten) will send out the "Orange Envelope" to about 5.5 million Swedes. It contains a prognosis of how much the person will receive from the national public pension scheme (allmänna pensionen) after retirement.

If a person who has worked internationally plans to retire in Sweden, there are ways to make sure payouts from pension schemes abroad are sent here.

"If you apply for your pension in Sweden, make a note in the paperwork that you've worked abroad and we'll make inquiries for you," Pensions Agency spokesman Olle Sylvén told The Local.

"If you've worked in other EU countries it is likely you've made contributions to a national pension scheme, although how much it amounts to is difficult to know."

“However, you must personally make enquiries about any service pension (tjänstepensionen) you signed up with through your employer abroad,” he added.

Sylvén strongly urged anyone working outside Sweden to make sure such pension benefits were part of their contract, as it could impact significantly on the size of the payments later in life.

In Sweden, about nine out of ten employees have access not only to the public pension scheme, but to a service or occupational pension, he noted.

"You will definitely be better off if you negotiate with your employer abroad to include access to a pension scheme through your work," Sylvén said.

Personal finance expert Ylva Yngveson at the Swedbank band said it can be difficult to predict how working abroad affects a person's final pension.

"How much you'll end up getting is a very individual question, but the question of multiple pension schemes is relevant to a lot of people," Yngvesson told The Local.

"Every year that you are not earning in Sweden will create a loss both in the public pension and any service pension.

She urged residents of Sweden nearing retirement to study the rules and to make sure the pension authorities are aware of the time spent working abroad, which allows them to request the money.

“The request can take a bit of time to process, up to six months,” she noted.

”And you cannot merge two pension schemes into one, you'll have two payments, but many people who've worked their entire lives in Sweden will also have multiple payments from different schemes.”

In December 2012, Statistics Sweden (Statistiska centralbyrån) warned that immigrants to Sweden who moved here later in life risked low pensions in their old age.

"Income levels differ sharply, depending on when in life one immigrated to Sweden," the report into the wellbeing of pension-age immigrants noted.

Immigrants account for 12 percent of the over 65s living in Sweden.

"Those who immigrated at older ages have considerably lower pensions than other groups," the summary stated.

Pensions Agency spokesman Olle Sylvén urged people to enter all the details of their service and private pension schemes on minpension.se to get an overview of how much money they can expect per month once they retire.

"In some cases you might decided you have to work for a bit longer," Sylvén said.

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

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