Insurance and social security
Registering with a social security fund
As a self-employed person, you must register with the social security fund for self-employed workers of your choice within 90 days of starting your business activity (list of social security funds).
If you have not done so within 90 days, the National Institute for the Social Security of the Self-Employed (NISSE) will ask you to rectify your situation. If you do not, then you will automatically be registered with the National Fund.
It is possible, under certain conditions, to change to a different social security fund.
Paying social security contributions
Self-employed workers must pay contributions to their social security fund. At the start of each quarter (January, April, July, October), they receive a notice detailing how much they are required to pay. Contributions must be paid by the end of each quarter.
The amount of social security contributions payable by self-employed workers depends on the amount of income they earn during their first three years in business. There are minimum and maximum contributions.
It is impossible to calculate contributions when workers are first starting out since their income level is not yet known. Self-employed workers just starting out must therefore pay provisional contributions for three years. After the first three years, contributions are calculated and adjusted on the basis of actual income earned in their first year in business.
As corporate entities, companies are not entitled to social security – unlike self-employed workers and assistants. Someone who begins working as a self-employed individual and who founds a company for that purpose must register himself and his company with a social security fund for self-employed workers.
What are your entitlements?
The social status of self-employed workers includes entitlements as well as obligations. Once they are in compliance with the legal requirements, self-employed workers acquire entitlements in the following areas:
- family allowance;
- sickness and incapacity insurance;
- maternity insurance;
- social insurance in the event of bankruptcy.
Family allowance comprises:
- a birth grant or adoption allowance;
- monthly family benefit;
- other benefits, age-related supplements and orphan's allowance.
Sickness and incapacity insurance
The social status of self-employed workers includes sickness and invalidity insurance covering certain types of healthcare and work incapacity. Under this insurance, self-employed workers are required to register with the health insurance fund of their choice.
Compulsory health insurance
Compulsory health insurance guarantees you will be reimbursed certain health care costs known as 'major risks' (costs of an operation, costs of hospitalisation, etc.). Lower-cost care, known as 'minor risks' (visits to the doctor or dentist, etc.) are not covered. However, self-employed workers may take out top-up insurance with the health insurance fund of their choice.
Since 1 July 2006, the following individuals have been covered free of charge for major and minor risks:
- self-employed individuals who are carrying out for the first time a self-employed activity as their main activity;
- retired self-employed individuals who are receiving the guaranteed income for the elderly.
Work incapacity insurance
Work incapacity insurance guarantees, under certain conditions, a replacement income for self-employed workers who must stop working temporarily due to illness or accident.
- During the first monthof incapacity the self-employed worker does not receive compensation.
- Starting in the second month, the self-employed worker receives a daily compensation.
- Starting in the second year(invalidity period), the compensation is increased.
Self-employed workers and assisting spouses who give birth are attributed work incapacity status for six weeks (seven weeks for multiple births) and are entitled to maternity benefit.
There are several types of pension:
- the retirement pension received by the self-employed worker upon retirement
- the survivors' pension (received by the surviving spouse)
- the divorced spouse pension
If a self-employed worker wishes to receive a bigger pension, he may, subject to certain conditions, take out supplementary pension insurance.
With bankruptcy insurance, self-employed individuals who have gone bankrupt:
- will retain their rights to healthcare insurance and family benefit for four quarters;
- can obtain temporary compensation.
Registering with a health insurance fund
Self-employed workers must register with the health insurance fund of their choice in order to receive benefits under illness and invalidity insurance.