Pensions! Don’t come a cropper

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With the continually shifting sands of State pension regulations, both in the UK and Spain, it is no wonder that many individuals find it difficult to know what they will be entitled to as retirement looms.

To provide as much advice and information as possible to expatriates, the British Consulate is attempting to disseminate the facts via its department based at the Consulate in Alicante. In their efforts to support British nationals here in Spain, the Pensions, Benefits and Healthcare Team members are passing on information via talks to interested organisations, leaflets and the internet.

Their key message is contained in a new slogan ‘Don’t come a cropper’ which Laura Leman from the Consulate explained in a visit to the Marina Alta Business Club (MABC) in Javea.

Basic, but very important advice is held within their mnemonic –

C – Call us – don’t leave it too late

R – Rights and Entitlements – find out

O – Official sources – use them

P – Plan and prepare for the future

P – Padron – register

– Engage and integrate with Spanish people

– Responsibility – inform authorities if circumstances change

As members and guests of MABC were provided with a very informative and interesting talk, there were many surprises in store as Laura set out the facts for claiming pensions, unemployment benefit and accessing healthcare.

For example, Laura informed her audience that contributions paid in any EU country can be added together to increase entitlement, and that applications for pension must be made in writing to the country where the employee last worked.

The Pension Reform Act in the UK, as well as changes in Spain, have resulted in an increase in pensionable age and with the UK also reducing the number of qualifying years for a full pension, it is difficult for individuals to know exactly where they stand.

Further information about accessing healthcare, applying for unemployment and other benefits, is available by contacting the Pensions, Benefits and Healthcare Team at the British Consulate in Alicante via the website www.ukinspain.fco.gov.uk. Laura can be contacted by email at laura-leeman@fco.gov.uk and there are lots of other websites available providing relevant information on these topics, some of which are listed below.

www.ukinspain.fco.gov.uk – very informative website on many subjects

www.seg-social.es – Social Services website available in English for Spanish pension and benefit entitlement

www.direct.gov.uk – all UK public services

www.dwp.gov.uk – International Pension Centre and UK Pension and Benefit enquiries

www.hmrc.gov.uk – Pension forecast; Voluntary Contributions

www.dh.gov.uk – Overseas Healthcare Team

www.redtrabaja.es – (in Spanish only) – provides information on all unemployment benefits

Article by Chris Sinclair – reproduced by kind permission from her excellent article in the RTN – member of Marina Alta Business Club

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