welfare & social security

Austrian social security and welfare schemes operate on two levels. Insurance provides cover for all gainfully employed people, and to a large extent for their dependents in cases of sickness, accident, unemployment, parental leave, and pensions, Public welfare benefits are provided by  federal, provincial and municipal authorities to citizens in need, who are not covered by the insurance system.
Social protection systems in Austria can be broken down as follows:
Social insurance: primarily includes social pension, health and work accident insurance
Unemployment insurance: primarily covers unemployment benefits, unemployment assistance and active labour market policies
Universal schemes: family allowance and tax credit for children, childcare allowance, long-term care system (and, de facto, the benefits in kind offered by the health care system)
Means-tested benefits  include minimum income levels under the pension insurance scheme  as well as relating to  unemployment assistance,  grants to pupils and students and continued payment of wages in case of illness.
social services
Social insurance in Austria is based on the principles of mandatory insurance, solidarity and autonomy. It is primarily financed by employers’ and employees’ contributions under the pay-as-you-go system. It is composed of three schemes:
pension insurance
health insurance
work accident insurance.
A number of social insurance institutions provide health, pension and work accident insurance cover and belong to the ‘Main Association of Austrian Social Security Organisations’ (Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger). Its main functions  include:
long-term planning
drafting guidelines (for uniform implementation)
central data management
conclusion of contracts with physicians, dentists, etc.
publication of a register of medicinal products (Heilmittelverzeichnis)
public representation of social insurance institutions
The most important institutions are the pension insurance institution, the nine regional health insurance funds, the general work accident insurance institution and the social insurance institutions for the self-employed and public-service employees.
unemployment insurance
Unemployment insurance is primarily funded by wage-related contributions made by employers and employees. It is managed by the public employment service (AMS), The AMS is a three-tiered system comprising of one federal organization, nine states and 99 regional organizations.
family allowance & tax credits for children
Family allowances are universal cash benefits for children irrespective of the recipients’ income levels. The amount of family allowances primarily depends on the age and number of children in a family. Family allowances are supplemented by a uniform tax credit, which may also be paid out as a negative tax. This tax credit is due for all children irrespective of the parents’ activity status.
childcare allowance
All mothers and fathers are entitled to childcare allowance: depending on the chosen option, it may be claimed for the first 12 months (14 months if also claimed by the second parent) to 30 (36) months of the child. Disbursement is in the hands of the health insurance funds.
long-term care benefits
All persons in need of (nursing) care are eligible for long-term care benefits. The amount of long-term care benefits will depend exclusively on the extent of care needed.
means-tested benefits
Social pension insurance provides for means-tested minimum benefits. Pensions are topped up with an equalisation supplement to reach a threshold value. The long-term unemployed are entitled to unemployment assistance (Notstandshilfe) if they are financially destitute. Other means tested assistance includes housing benefits and student grants.
labour law protection
Entitlements vis-à-vis employers include financial support in case of illness and pregnancy, employee income provision funds, special provisions for working parents (e.g. paid care leave), dismissal protection for certain groups, periods of notice, rules on work¬ing hours and rest periods, etc.
occupational pension schemes
Occupational pension schemes refer to pensions funded by employers to supplement the statutory schemes.
social services
Regional differences exist in the quality and quantity of services and their organisational delivery. Territorial authorities run some of the social services themselves, while others are outsourced to non-profit organisations, associations or private providers.
The public sector plays a dominant role in the areas of childcare, homes for the elderly and nursing homes. Other providers are private and non-profit organisations.