History of the Social Security

The starting point of protection policies can be found in the Committee for Social Reform (1883), which was in charge of matters that could have an impact on the improvement and wellbeing of the working class. In 1900, the first social security system was created along with the Labour Accidents Act, and in 1908 the National Planning Institute appeared, which integrated the banks that managed social securities as they emerged.

In later years, the protection mechanisms resulted in a series of social insurances, including Worker Retirement (1919), Mandatory Maternity Insurance (1923), Forced Unemployment Insurance (1931), Medical Insurance (1942), Mandatory Pension and Disability Insurance (SOVI) (1947). The protection provided by these insurances was soon found to be insufficient, which led to the emergence of other protection mechanisms organised through employment mutual funds, organised by work sectors and whose provisions were to complete the already existing protection. Given the multiplicity of mutual funds, this protection system led to discrimination between working population, caused financial imbalances and made rational and effective management very difficult.

In 1963, the Social Security Bases Act appeared; its main purpose was the implementation of a unified and integral social protection model, with a financial basis of distribution, public management and involvement of the State in the financing. Despite this definition of principles, many of which were included in the General Social Security Act of 1966, which has been in force since 1 January 1967, the truth is that the old contribution systems that were far removed from the actual salaries of workers still remained, with a lack of periodic reevaluations and the trend towards unity was not achieved due to the survival of numerous superimposed organisations. 

The 1972 Protection Action Financing and Perfection Act tried to correct the existing financial problems, but worsened them by increasing the protective action without establishing the corresponding resources that provided financial coverage. Therefore, it was not until the arrival of democracy in Spain, and the approval of the Constitution, that a series of reforms in the various fields that configure the Social Security system were introduced.

In fact, Article 41 of the Constitution states that the public authorities shall maintain a public social security system for all citizens, guaranteeing sufficient support and social benefits in situations of need, especially in the event of unemployment, and that the support and additional benefits shall be free.

The first major reform was the result of the publication of Royal Decree Act 36/1978, of 16 November, based on the Moncloa Pacts, which created a system of institutional participation of social agents favouring transparency and rationalisation of the Social Security, as well as establishing a new management system governed by the following organisations:

During the eighties a series of measures were implemented in order to improve and perfect the protective action by extending benefits for collective groups not covered and provide greater economic stability to the Social Security system. Some of the measures included the gradual equalisation process of baseline calculations and actual salaries, the revaluation of pensions depending on the variation of the consumer price index, the expansion of periods necessary to receive benefits and to calculate pensions, the simplification of the Social Security structure, initial separation of financing functions, so that the contributive benefits were financed with social contributions, while those of non-contributive nature would be covered in the general expansion. This process would enable the progressive generalisation of medical assistance.

During this decade, the Social Security IT Department was created, to coordinate and control the activities of IT services and data processing of the various Management Entities.

The nineties represented a series of social changes that affected multiple matters and that have had their influence in the Social Security system: changes in the employment market, greater mobility, inclusion of women in the working world, etc. which have made it necessary to adapt protection to new emerging requirements.

The Toledo Pact, signed in 1995 and backed by all the political and social forces, brought important changes and established a roadmap to ensure financial stability and future Social Security benefits.

The implementation of non-contributive provisions, the rationalisation of Social Security (executed through the new Supplementary Text in 1994), greater suitability between benefits received and the exemption of contributions previously performed, the creation of a Reserve Fund for the Social Security, introduction of flexible retirement mechanisms and the incentivation of extending working life, or measures to improve protection, in the cases of lower pensions, are evidence of the changes introduced since 1990 to date, within the scope of the Social Security.

In turn, during recent years the Social Security has also adapted to the emergence of new technologies and the increase of telematic services, with the birth and development of its website and the e-Office and the constant inclusion and optimisation of Internet-based services. In connection to this, the website has received several awards recognising the work that has been done, and we continue to encourage the continuous improvement of the services it offers to citizens.

In order to reward the work carried out since its inception, both the Social Security and its internal organisations have been given several awards, which recognise and consolidate the massive contribution it has made to social work throughout its existence.


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40 años de Protección Social Descargar documento 40 años de Protección Social. The document will open in a new window.(PDF,341 KB) 07/02/2019
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