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SPANISH PENSION

How many years do I have to work in Spain to get a pension?

What’s the minimum number of years you have to work in Spain before you can retire? And how about if you want to get a full state pension? Here’s what you need to know. 

how many years pension spain
The average monthly pension in Spain in 2021 was €1,189 a month, a figure which has increased from €722 in 2006. (Photo: Format ARW/Unsplash)

Before we get into the details of retiring and getting a pension in Spain, there’s a word you need to familiarise yourself with: cotizar

Cotizar is a verb which means to make or pay contributions, in the sense of paying tax into Spain’s social security system (la seguridad social). There’s also the noun cotización used to refer to these social security contributions. We mention this early on as when you deal with Spain’s social security system, these words will always come up.  

How long do you have to work in Spain to get a pension?

The minimum number of years you must have worked in Spain (the minimum period of contributions) before you can retire and access a state pension in Spain is 15 years. 

To claim a full Spanish pension, you must have worked and contributed for at least 36 years, although this figure will increase to 37 years by 2027.

If you want to have an idea of how many years you have worked, and how long you have left before being able to get a Spanish pension, the easiest way to find out is by checking your vida laboral (working life) profile here.

Logically, fewer years working and paying into the system means that you will get a smaller pension. 

It isn’t possible for us to give you an exact idea of how much money you can expect to receive as a Spanish pension because it depends on factors such as how much you earned/contributed, the regulatory base, voluntary or involuntary early retirement among a number of other considerations. 

These calculations also change on a yearly basis, but to give you an idea, the maximum contributory pension set by the Spanish government in 2022 is €2,819 gross in 14 payments (one for every month of the year plus 2 extra). 

If you haven’t made enough social security contributions throughout your working life in Spain as a result of not earning enough or having an unstable working life, you could still claim a non-contributory pension, which in 2022 amounts to around €491 a month. 

One of the best ways to find out how much you are likely to get as a pension is by using some of the online calculators that do all the work for you, such as this one

The average monthly pension in Spain in 2021 was €1,189 a month, a figure which has increased from €722 in 2006.

If you have many years until you retire in Spain, keep in mind that it’s a well-known fact that the country’s ageing population is putting increasing pressure on the social security system and this is likely to have a big impact on pensions in the long run.

In other words, the figures mentioned above may well be very different in a decade or two, and considering a private pension plan could also be wise to secure your future in old age. 

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SPAIN AND THE US

Spain and the US to exchange more language assistants in bilingualism push    

The governments of Spain and the United States have agreed to recruit more English and Spanish-language assistants from each other’s countries as a means of bolstering bilingual education in the two nations.

Spain and the US to exchange more language assistants in bilingualism push    

Spain’s Education Minister Pilar Alegría and US ambassador to Spain Julissa Reynoso met on Wednesday to sign a memorandum of understanding which will reinforce educational cooperation between the two countries. 

The agreement had been previously signed by Miguel Cardona, the United States Secretary of Education, who tweeted: “This week, alongside [Spanish] Ambassador [Santiago] Cabañas, I signed a memorandum supporting the study of Spanish language & culture in the US, and the study of English in Spain”.

It is in fact a renewal of a memorandum between the United States and Spain which has facilitated mobility of both conversation assistants and students between the two countries in recent years.

The aim of this newest memorandum of understanding is to further strengthen student and teacher exchange programmes and promote bilingual and multicultural teaching in both educational systems.

No exact details have yet been given about how many extra language assistants will be given grants to join the programme. 

Several teacher recruitment sources suggest the current number of North American language assistants (including Canadians) heading to Spain every year is between 2,000 and 2,500. 

The Spanish government has stated that in 2023, this figure will be around 4,500, which represents a considerable increase in the number of US and Canadian citizens who can apply through the NALCAP programme, which stands for North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain. 

According to Spain’s Foreign Ministry, the following requirements must be met by US candidates in order to participate in the programme:

  • Be a U.S. citizen and have a valid passport
  • Have earned a bachelor’s degree or be currently enrolled as a sophomore, junior or a senior in a bachelor’s programme. Applicants may also have an associate degree or be a community college student in their last semester.
  • Have a native-like level of English
  • Be in good physical and mental health
  • Have a clean background check
  • Be aged 18 – 60.
  • Have at least basic knowledge of Spanish (recommended)

NALCAP recipients receive a monthly stipend of €700 to €1,000 as well as Spanish medical insurance.

Application dates for 2023 are usually announced in late November. See more information on the NALPAC programme for US nationals here

According to The Fulbright Program, one of several US cultural exchange programmes that organises the recruitment of US nationals for Spain: “English Teaching Assistants assist teaching staff at the early childhood, elementary, middle school, high school, vocational and/or university level for up to 16 hours per week, with an additional two hours for planning & coordination meetings. Responsibilities include assistant-teaching, in English, subjects such as social studies, science and technology, art, physical education, and English language.”

READ MORE: The pros and cons of being an English language assistant in Spain

There are also currently more than 1,000 Spanish teachers working as visiting teachers in the United States, Spain’s Moncloa government has said, without adding yet how many more will be recruited in 2023.

Additionally, more than 1,000 North American students now take part in the Spanish Language and Culture Groups managed by the Spanish Education Ministry’s Overseas Education Action (or Acción Educativa Exterior, AEE).  

Canadian applicants can find out more about working as language assistants in Spain by visiting the NALCAP Canada website.

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