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The social security system

The social security system covers the following: Prevention, sickness, incapacity for work/invalidity, maternity, unemployment, old age, death of a person liable to provide maintenance, survivors’ pensions, nursing care and social need.

Typical characteristics of social insurance are:

  • Insurance is compulsory for persons who are either self-employed or in paid employment and their dependants. Some groups, e.g. minimally employed workers, are only subject to compulsory insurance in limited areas, see section on kinds of employment
  • Insured persons are legally entitled to some – but not all – benefits (if they fulfil the conditions for entitlement)
  • Funding comes from income-related insurance contributions and State support.
  • Principle of solidarity: those with higher incomes – who therefore pay higher social insurance contributions – help to fund benefits for those with lower incomes.
  • Principle of insurance: insurance is the prerequisite for drawing benefits; benefits are income-related.

Insurance bodies

Sickness insurance (prevention, sickness, maternity, nursing care) is administered by the sickness insurance funds, accident insurance by the General Accident Insurance Institute (Allgemeine Unfallversicherungsanstalt - AUVA), unemployment insurance by the Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice - AMS) and pensions insurance by the Pension Insurance Office (Pensionsversicherungsanstalt - PVA).

Sickness insurance funds are organised regionally according to provinces, therefore the responsibility of a particular sickness insurance fund is evident from the place of work. Self-employed persons, farmers, railway employees, miners and civil servants have their own social insurance institutions which are independent of their place of work.

All insurance bodies are devolved into provincial and to some extent district agencies and are grouped centrally in the Association of Austrian Social Insurance Institutions (Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger).


As an employee with an employment contract and a statement of terms and conditions (Dienstzettel) one is automatically covered by social insurance. The employer takes care of the registration with the insurance institutions. The insurance contributions to be paid by employees are deducted every month from their gross salary/gross wages by their employer.

Persons insured voluntarily and, for example, the self-employed, pay their own contributions and must register with the appropriate insurance bodies themselves.

Means-tested minimum income

In addition to social insurance, there is the system of means-tested minimum income (previously: social assistance). The minimum income in Austria is intended to plug the gaps in other areas of social insurance.

Please note:
EU/EEA citizens can apply for minimum income to the local council office (Gemeindeamt) for their place of residence, or, in towns and cities, to the municipal office (Magistratisches Bezirksamt).

Further information and useful links


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