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Social Security and Welfare

Colombia - Social Security and Welfare

Colombia has had a basic social security system since the mid 19th century, although this only applied to certain professions, such as the military and parliament members. It became available to private sector workers in 1946 but as late as the 1980s there was little help available for many workers.

The system in place now allows workers to choose between paying into the social insurance system or the mandatory individual account system. Workers can switch between them if they choose but only once every five years and not in the last ten years prior to retirement. These two systems cover most of the country’s workers. In areas of the country where these schemes are not available, the larger employers are expected to provide a system of benefits for their workers. Teachers, the armed forces and the police all have their own systems.

There are a number of benefits in the social security system which are available to the country’s citizens. Unemployment benefit is payable under the mandatory individual severance account scheme. The employer makes a payment based on a percentage of the salary and those who are self employed can make payments but a worker does not need to do so. The amount paid out in the event of job loss is based on the salary that was being earned.

Those who are injured at work can claim from the social insurance system, which the employer pays into on behalf of the worker. There is a permanent disability pension which is calculated based on the degree of the disability and the salary of the worker. A temporary disability benefit is payable in the case of a short term injury or until the injury is classified as permanent.

The system also covers old age pensions. These can be provided for either through the social insurance scheme or that of the mandatory individual account system. A minimum number of contributions are required and retirees receive a set number of payments each year. The amount payable varies with inflation rates and if a person does not have enough contributions to meet the minimum the government will make up the difference.

As an expat it is unlikely that you will qualify for any benefits in Colombia unless you have been living there for a number of years and are entitled to permanent residency status. It is also unlikely that you will be able to receive benefits from your home country unless they have a reciprocal agreement with Colombia. You would have to confirm details of any such agreement with the benefits office in your country of origin.

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