Social Security (Seguretat Social) is a public protection system that guarantees everyone health, economic and non-contributory benefits (prestacions), along with any other kind of benefits that may be established by law, to enable them to deal with situations involving social need.
The system is based on the principle of financial solidarity, and companies and workers alike make economic contributions to it, as you will see, for example, if you look at the deductions – common contingencies (deduccions o contingències comunes) section on a wage slip (full de salari or nòmina) .
Types of benefits:
A. Health benefit:
This consists of free healthcare for everyone in Catalonia, regardless of your nationality or administrative status. It is one of the most important benefits that the public Social Security system provides.
B. Economic benefit:
This benefit is for the purpose of anticipating, rectifying or overcoming situations that involve need and which usually result in a loss of earnings or excessive expenses for the people affected. The benefit covers three types of eventualities:
1. Risks related to illness, maternity, unemployment, old age, retirement, permanent disability and death (social insurance).
2. Family benefits (for children for whom you are responsible, for example).
3. Accidents at work and occupational diseases.
Regardless of your nationality, as a worker who contributes to the Social Security system you are entitled to receive contributory economic benefits, provided that you have been making the corresponding payments for the minimum time required by law.
Such benefits are described as contributory because you must have previously made compulsory financial contributions to the Social Security system in order to be entitled to receive such benefits. The contributory system does not protect everybody, but it does cover a high percentage of the population.
C. Non-contributory benefits:
These benefits are paid to people who need them, regardless of the contributions they have made, and are financed by the public budget. There are non-contributory benefits for retirement, disability, raising children, basic guaranteed income, unemployment, etc.
For full information on social benefits, see
A number of bodies manage the Social Security system and its benefits in Catalonia, namely the National Institute for Social Security (Institut Nacional de la Seguretat Social or INSS), the Catalan Health Institute (Institut Català de la Salut or ICS), the Institute for Migration and Social Services (Institut de Migracions i Serveis Socials or IMSERSO), the Catalan Institute for Social Services (Institut Català de Serveis Socials or ICASS) and the General Treasury of the Social Security (Tresoreria General de la Seguretat Social), a body responsible for managing all the payments made and received under the Social Security system.
Information on the non-contributory or economic benefits to which you may be entitled is available from the social services in your town or city.