Dutch pension system

As in many other European countries, the Dutch pension system consists of three pillars: the state pension (AOW), the supplementary company pensions and the private individual pension products that each person can arrange for him-/herself. In this section we elaborate on these three pillars.

First Pillar

The first pillar is the state pension (AOW). The state pension provides a basic income, the level of which is linked to the statutory minimum wage. Married couples and couples living together each receive 50% of the minimum wage (approximately € 850 gross per month in 2016). Pensioners living alone receive more, 70% of the minimum wage (approximately € 1.225 gross per month in 2018).

You are insured for the state pension if you live in the Netherlands or have lived there at some point. You accrue 2% state pension for each year that you are insured. You receive a full state pension if you have been insured throughout the 50 years before your state pension (AOW) age. For anyone born on or after 1 January 1955 the current state pension (AOW) age is 67 years and 3 months.

The first pillar is a pay-as-you-go system. This means that the costs of the Dutch state pension benefits are paid by the workforce in the form of contributions. The Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB) carries out the AOW. Check their website SVB.nl if you want to know more about the AOW. All information is available in English.

Second Pillar

The second pillar consists of the company pension schemes. These pension schemes are administered by a pension fund (like Forward) or by an insurance company. Under Dutch law, companies and pension funds are strictly separated. Pension funds are legally and financially independent from the companies. The second pillar is financed by capital funding. This means that the pensions are financed from the contributions the employer and members of the scheme paid in the past and from the return on the investment of these contributions.
There are various forms of pension schemes in the Netherlands. More information about the Forward pension scheme you can find in 'Pensioen 1-2-3' in the chapter 'How do you accrue pension?'.

Third Pillar

The third pillar is formed by individual pension products, such as an annuity insurance or via a tax-efficient blocked savings account. These are mainly used by the self-employed and employees in sectors without a collective pension scheme. But you can also use such a product just to accrue more pension. Individual pension products are bought at insurance companies or at banks. Anyone can purchase a product in the third pillar to meet his/her requirements. In this way, people can save extra pension, often taking advantage of tax benefits.