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Ecuador - Social Security and Welfare

The social security system in Ecuador is run by the Ministry of Social Welfare. There are a number of benefits which are available to those who are included in the system. All workers pay contributions, although the amount varies as those in some professions may not qualify for all benefits. Employers also make contributions and the government adds its own subsidy. Certain groups of workers – such as farmers – have their own schemes for paying out if they require financial assistance.

In order to claim the old age pension a worker must be at least 55 years of age and have a minimum of 30 years contributions. If you choose to retire later at the age of 65 the minimum contributions drops to 15 years although an additional option of retiring at 60 with 30 years of contributions is planned. There are circumstances under which a person can retire earlier, although this depends on personal situation and the number of contributions.

There are several sickness benefits available and these include a permanent disability pension, a temporary disability allowance and sickness benefit. Which one of these you would qualify for depends upon the severity of the illness or injury and whether or not you would be able to work again in the future. If a person is injured at work then they do not have to have a minimum number of contributions and are covered immediately although a work related illness (for example an illness contracted by those working with asbestos) does require a minimum of 6 months of contributions.

Maternity benefits are paid to those who have worked and made contributions for a minimum of 360 days prior to the beginning of maternity leave. The amounts that are paid out in all of these benefits are calculated on the average salary earned prior to finishing work, so everybody’s benefit will be different.

Medical costs are also covered in this system with a worker needing to have made a minimum of 180 days of contributions in the six months prior to becoming ill in order to qualify for help. Occasionally a worker will be covered for treatment in a private clinic. This also covers medications, any time spent in hospital and dental care. Children under the age of one are entitled to free medical care.

Other benefits include unemployment payments for those who have lost work through no fault of their own, as well as death and survivor payments for those who have lost a relative.

As an expat it is unlikely that you will qualify for any of these benefits until you have been in the country for some time. If you are moving to Ecuador for work then you may be expected to contribute to the system, in which case your rights are the same as any other worker.

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