Your income when you retire

The four pillars of the Belgian pension system are relevant to you, whether you've always been self-employed or have followed a mixed career (employment and self-employment, concurrent or separate, in your own right or as a supporting spouse).


The four pillars of the pension system in Belgium

1st pillar: the State pension

In Belgium, everyone has a right to a State pension. You too. This is guaranteed by the Belgian government.


However, not everyone will receive the same amount, far from it: Your State pension will not necessarily be sufficient to maintain your standard of living. In most cases, the State pension is significantly less than your last salary.
Hence the importance of building up a supplementary pension.


How much your future pension will be depends on your occupational status, your gross salary, the number of years worked and your family circumstances.


Belgians have one of the lowest basic pensions in Europe. In 2005, the average pension in Belgium was EUR 12,000, compared with EUR 14,000 to EUR 18,000 in comparable countries.


Depending on your occupational status, you currently receive on average:

  • EUR 2,273 (civil servant)
  • EUR 1,077 (employee)
  • EUR 758 (self-employed)
  • EUR 1,119 (overall average for Belgium)


2nd pillar: supplementary occupational pension

The second pillar encompasses all the supplementary pension schemes linked to an occupational activity. There is preferential tax treatment for building up a supplementary pension. Under this pillar, the provisions for self-employed people and employees are different.


Self-employed people (or supporting spouses)/members of the professions/company managers
Self-employed people, supporting spouses, company managers and members of the professions may, on their own initiative, save towards a supplementary pension under the second pillar. The need to build up additional pension is, indeed, most pressing for this group. The Voluntary Supplementary Pension Scheme for the Self-Employed (PCLI/VAPZ) allows you to save towards a supplementary pension, while also offering protection in the event of premature death. The premiums are treated as social security contributions, which means they are professional expenses deductible at the marginal rate of tax. This enables self-employed people to claim back 53.50% of the premiums paid in and to reduce their social security contributions (calculated on professional earnings less the amount of the premiums).


Medical profession (health care practitioners)

Health care practitioners (physicians, physiotherapists, dentists and pharmacists) in receipt of annual payments under the INAMI/RIZIV social benefits system can use some or all of those payments to build up a Voluntary Supplementary Pension Scheme for the Self-Employed as part of a 'social' pension agreement.


It is highly recommended that you combine this with a second level financed by your own funds, so that you get the full tax and social security benefit.

Certain employers fund a supplementary pension for their employees through a group insurance policy or pension fund. This is an attractive form of deferred salary which can provide you with significant lump sum capital when you retire. Group insurance is generally provided by major companies. This system has not yet spread to all companies. On average, the amount paid out under a group insurance policy is EUR 70,000 before tax. This sum may be paid in the form of lump sum capital or a life annuity.

3rd pillar: personal pension savings with a tax break

Fortunately, you can take matters into your own hands to ensure that you have a comfortable pension. Your pension savings will enable you to put aside a sizeable capital sum. You can choose between pension savings and long-term savings or a combination of both. In addition, these savings packages give you a tax break. You have less tax to pay, which is always worth taking up.


Pension savings: in 2014, every taxpayer can save up to EUR 940.
In the case of pension savings, you can choose between an investment fund and a pension savings insurance policy.


Long-term savings: with this package, you can save up to EUR 2,260 in 2014, per taxpayer and depending on your professional income.


BNP Paribas Fortis recommends combining pension savings with long-term savings. This enables you to make full use of the maximum tax break. In addition, it will provide you with a sizeable capital sum over time that you could convert to a monthly annuity when you reach the age of 60 or 65.

4th pillar: voluntary personal savings without a tax break

Combined, the Voluntary Supplementary Pension Scheme for the Self-Employed, pension savings and long-term saving can provide you with a sizeable capital sum over time. But the maximum deductible amounts are small.
Would you like to give your pension a boost? Or to make up as much as possible for the shortfall compared with your last professional income?

We would therefore recommend to you our Planning for Pension investment insurance. There are no tax breaks. However, you do have the guarantee that everything will be completely in order. For later.

Your income when you retire