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Unemployment benefits in Austria: Who is eligible and how much can you get?

For many people, unemployment benefits are a lifeline after losing a job. But how does the system work in Austria and how much financial support can you receive?

Unemployment benefits in Austria: Who is eligible and how much can you get?
How do you apply for unemployment benefits in Austria - and how much do you get? Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

General unemployment in Austria is now back to pre-pandemic levels but long-term unemployment is still above average – especially when compared with Scandinavian countries.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), twelve to 17 percent of unemployed people in Scandinavia have been without a job for more than a year. 

However, in Austria the figure is 24 percent.

One reason for the difference in long-term unemployed figures is that more people in Austria have “company-specific skills”, according to an article in Der Standard.

Whereas in Scandinavian countries, there is a stronger emphasis on transferable skills and general “know-how”.

As unemployment continues to be a topic of discussion, how do unemployment benefits work in Austria? And how much money can you get?

Here’s what you need to know.

Unemployment benefits in Austria

In Austria, unemployment benefit is called Arbeitslosengeld (literally ‘unemployment money’) and is available for people who lose their job or enter a period of unemployment.

It is for people that are registered as unemployed with the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS) and who are ready to work at least 20 hours per week once a job has been found.

Then there is an additional benefit called Notstandshilfe, which is essentially a form of emergency financial assistance in case unemployment benefits run out.

READ MORE: Could you lose unemployment benefits in Austria for refusing Covid-19 vaccine?

However, certain conditions have to be met, such as being able and willing to work, already registered as unemployed with the AMS and being ready to be placed on the job market. 

To be eligible for Notstandshilfe, an application must be submitted no later than five years after unemployment benefits have ended.

Some people may also be eligible for a family allowance, depending on their situation.

Who is eligible for unemployment benefits?

To be eligible for unemployment benefits in Austria, you must have been in employment for 52 weeks out of the past two years.

For people applying for unemployment benefits for the second time or more, a record of being in employment for 28 weeks in the past year is enough to become eligible.

Similarly, for people aged 25 and under, 26 weeks of work in the past year is sufficient.

Self-employed people are entitled to unemployment benefits but only under certain conditions and the AMS doesn’t provide examples. Instead, people are urged to contact the AMS with any questions.

FOR MEMBERS: Working in Vienna: How to find a job in the Austrian capital

However, self-employed people can take out voluntary unemployment insurance through the organisation of social insurance for self-employed people (Sozialversicherung der Selbständigen), known as SVS.

Voluntary unemployment insurance is an additional financial contribution on top of the standard health and social insurance payments that are compulsory for self-employed people.

How much money can be claimed in unemployment benefits?

In Austria, the amount of unemployment benefits that a person can receive depends on whether they are eligible just for the basic amount or for the additional allowances as well.

In fact, the AMS even has a note on its website that states the basic amount can be difficult to calculate.

To simplify it though, in most cases the benefit is determined by the amount of monthly social insurance contributions made by an individual. 

In certain cases, a supplement might be added if the basic amount is lower than the compensation allowance target. This is currently set at €1,000.48 per month.

There is also a maximum limit, which means unemployment benefits can’t exceed 60 percent of your net income (for people not entitled to family allowances).

Who is eligible for a family allowance?

The family allowance is paid on top of the standard unemployment benefits and is typically for people with children that are considered dependents, including step-children, foster children and grandchildren.

The family allowance might also be paid if the claimant has a spouse or partner with little or no income.

How to claim unemployment benefits in Austria

The first step to claiming unemployment benefits in Austria is to register as unemployed with the AMS. Then you can submit an application to make a claim.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, applications should be submitted via an eAMS account, which is an online portal of the AMS. Registration for an eAMS account can be found here.

READ ALSO: How to find a job in winter sports in Austria

For anyone unsure about this process, the AMS can be contacted by phone or email. The AMS team will then send out an application form for unemployment benefits by post.

At this time, the AMS is advising people not to visit branches in person.

How does Austria compare with other countries?

In the UK, there is a ‘new style’ Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) to support people that unexpectedly find themselves out of work. The amount received depends on the age. 

For example, people aged up to 24 will receive up to £59.40 per week and those aged 25 and over will receive a maximum of £74.70 a week.

Then there is Universal Credit, which some people can receive at the same time as JSA, if they are eligible.

For people under the age of 25, the standard monthly allowance is £344 (for singles) and £490.60 for a couple. For single people aged over 25, the amount is £411.51 and for a couple it is £596.58. 

In Germany, unemployment benefits are based on the average weekly pay in the 12 months before becoming unemployed.

The benefit is calculated at 60 percent of the salary, or 67 percent for people with children.

Useful websites

Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS)

Social Insurance for Self-Employed People (SVS)

Useful vocabulary

Arbeitslosengeld – unemployment benefits

Notstandshilfe – emergency assistance (financial)

Sozialversicherung – social insurance

Familienzuschlag – family allowance

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For members

WORKING IN AUSTRIA

Five things you need to know about the Austrian pension system

Navigating the pension system as a foreigner can be tricky, especially if you don't know how long you will stay in Austria. To make the process easier, here's what you need to know.

Five things you need to know about the Austrian pension system

Austria’s pension system is compulsory

Austria has a compulsory pension system for all employed people, including those that are self-employed. However, to qualify for a state pension, you need to contribute to the Austrian welfare system for 15 years. 

Early retirement is possible, as long as you have contributed for 15 years, but pension payments will be smaller until the age of 65. Alternatively, people can receive a bonus for working longer.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

The Austrian pension system is basically a pay-as-you-go scheme with 10.25 percent of an employee’s gross salary paid towards pension contributions. Employers then contribute a further 12.55 percent towards an employee’s pension.

For self-employed people in Austria, pension contributions are part of the overall social security payments to the Social Insurance Institute for Self-Employed Persons (SVS).

There are three different types of pension

In Austria there are three pillars to the pension system: state, occupational and private. 

Anyone can claim a state pension in Austria as long as they meet the required age and the number of years of contributions within the country. But the amount a person receives depends on how much has been paid into the individual pension account.

Occupational pensions (second pillar) are not mandatory and involve making additional contributions. They are designed to help people continue with a certain standard of living into retirement.

Private pensions, or the third pillar, were introduced in Austria in 2003 to promote private investments for retirements, as well as the Austrian capital market. This type of pension is typically offered by way of annuity insurance and pension investment funds.

READ MORE: Five reasons to retire in Austria

Pensions from overseas can be transferred to Austria 

For any EU citizens planning to retire in Austria, a state pension from another EU country can be transferred to a bank in Austria. But the amount you receive will depend on the rules in the country that pays the pension.

Austria also has social security agreements with countries outside of the EU, such as the US, Canada, Australia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Israel. But most agreements are linked to employment in Austria.

For people from the UK, there is the option to transfer a pension into a Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme (ROPS), which allows pension funds to be consolidated together into one plan.

However, as with all things related to finance, it’s recommended to seek advice from a financial expert when it comes to moving pension pots overseas.

Austrian pension contributions count in other countries

EU law states that years of pension contributions in Austria also count in another EU country. The same applies to any agreements that Austria might have with non-EU countries.

This means if you live and work in Austria for several years before moving to another EU country, the qualifying years in Austria will be taken into account when claiming a pension in the future.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

However, you have to apply to the pension authority where you are living or where you last worked. That country is then responsible for bringing together the claims from all the countries where you have worked.

Despite Brexit, the UK has an agreement in place with Austria so that years of paying into the Austrian pension system still count as qualifying years for the British state pension.

The Austrian state pension age is rising

The pension age in Austria is currently 65 for men and 60 for women, but this will change in the coming years. 

Between 2024 and 2033, the state pension age for women will rise to 65, in line with the age for men.

This also aligns with other European countries like France, Germany and Italy where the state pension age is the same for both men and women. 

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