OASI, the Swiss Old Age and Survivor Insurance

OASI, the Swiss Old Age and Survivor Insurance

The Swiss pension system is based on a three-pillar system, which is an essential and specific element of the Swiss social security system. If you are a cross-border commuter working in Switzerland, you are affiliated to the Swiss pension system, hence the importance of understanding the challenges of the Swiss pension system.

Old-age and survivors' insurance (OASI), disability insurance (DI), unemployment insurance and income compensation allowance (EO/MSE) constitute the first of the three pillars of the Swiss social security system. Consult our guide on "the three-pillar Swiss system" for more information.

In this guide, we will analyze the first pillar of the swiss pension system, the OASI.

Why the OASI?

Old-age and survivors' insurance (AVS) is the main pillar of Swiss social security and it primarily aims to partially compensate for the fall or loss of income related to a cessation of activity, whether for retirement, disability or even in the event of death, in order to guarantee a minimum standard of living.

The first pillar is constituted of:

  • Old-age and survivors’ insurance (OASI): it guarantees that each person receives an amount from the retirement age according to his or her personal situation and the contributions paid. It provides an old-age pension, but also a survivor's pension so that a pension is paid to the spouse in the event of death, or for minor children in the event of the parents' death.
  • Disability insurance (DI): it grants pensions to people who are physically or mentally limited and who cannot work. It also covers rehabilitation measures.
  • Income compensation allowance (EO/MSE): it guarantees the salary in the event of maternity leave or military service.
  • Unemployment insurance: it provides pensions if you are in a situation where you do not have a job, you will be supported by this insurance.

The contribution rates for the first pillar in 2019 are the following:

AVS8.4%
AI1.4%
APG0.455%

Up to a limit of 148,200 francs, the contribution rate to the AC is 2.2% of the determining annual salary. On the part of the salary above 148,200 francs, the contribution to the AC amounts to 1% of the determining annual salary (without limit).

The employer deducts half of the contributions from your salary and remits this amount with its share to the compensation fund.

How does the OASI work?

The OASI is based primarily on a distribution system based on solidarity between generations. Thanks to a generation contract, the working population finances the retired population through a distribution process. The contributions are then redistributed in the form of benefits to the beneficiaries. Solidarity also exists between rich and poor, the wealthiest pay more contributions, while the less well-off receive benefits that are high compared to their own contributions.

In Switzerland, all women and men who are salaried in the country, including cross-border workers, must be insured with the OASI. Half of the OASI contributions are paid by the employer and half by the employee (directly deducted from the salary). It is also compulsory for all those who live in Switzerland, from 1 January following the age of 17, or from 1 January following the age of 20 for those who enter working life after the age of 17, until retirement age.

In order to beneficiate OASI’s pension, you must meet the following conditions first:

  • Reach the legal retirement age (65 years old for men, 64 years old for women)
  • Have paid a full year's contributions
  • Either your spouse, who is salaried, has paid at least twice the minimum contribution for one year, or
  • Bonuses for educational or support tasks may be granted to you.

How do I calculate my pension?

The amount of the retirement pension depends on several factors:

  • Years of contributions: a pension is considered complete if it includes contributions from January 1st following the 20 years until retirement age.
  • Your income
  • Any bonuses for educational or support tasks

The pension ceiling depends on your marital status, CHF 2,350 for single people and CHF 3,525 for a married couple.

You can estimate your pension online with an online pension simulator or contact your compensation fund to obtain a free estimate, but in both cases it is a calculation with an indicative value. The further into retirement, the more uncertain the estimated amount is due to the unpredictable change in the cost of living. Your pension can only be calculated definitively at the time of your retirement.

For a man, the retirement age is 65 years and for a woman 64 years. However, the receipt of the OASI pension can be anticipated or postponed:

  • Anticipation: you have the option to anticipate the pension by one or two years, in which case you will receive a reduced retirement pension throughout your retirement. This reduction amounts to 6.8% for 1 year of anticipation and 13.6% for 2 years of anticipation (status 2019).
  • Postponement: there is also the possibility of postponing the start of the OASI pension from 1 to 5 years, in which case you will receive a higher retirement pension throughout your retirement.

For more information about OASI, consult the information center OASI.

Your OASI number:

The thirteen-digit OASI number is anonymous and will be with you for the rest of your life.

OASI Number
  • If you are insured with a Swiss health insurance company, your OASI number can be found on your health insurance card.
  • As a cross-border worker, you must contact your employer's compensation fund in Switzerland.