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Field of Application

Through the scope of application we are going to establish and determine a group of people who are included in the Spanish Social Security System and who, therefore, are going to be individuals with rights and obligations. These people have become known as "protected individuals".

In principle, the Spanish System is focused on the principle of universality, meaning that all citizens would be included in its scope of protection. Thus, it is inferred from Art. 41 of the Constitution and from Art. 1 of the General Social Security Act (LGSS).

However, this statement needs to be qualified, because meeting the requirement of citizenship is not enough. Thus, the State guarantees their protection "either for carrying out a professional activity, or for meeting the requirements at the non-contributory level". (Art. 2 LGSS).

Therefore, we have to set out two different criteria for achieving protected individual status:

  1. Carrying out a professional activity, which would imply the duty to pay contributions and, in return, the entitlement to "contributory" benefits, which take these contributions into account.
  2. Meeting certain conditions specifically provided for in the regulations (situation of need and lacking personal financial resources), which would give rise to receiving benefits known as "non-contributory".

There is, therefore, a two-tier level of protection: contributory (occupational) and non-contributory (welfare).

It is in Art. 7 of the LGSS where the scope of application of the Social Security System is set out in detail.

Thus, the contributory level is provided for in the first paragraph, where it states that Spanish citizens residing in Spain and foreign citizens residing legally in Spain are included in the System, provided that they are carrying out a professional activity in national territory and are included in one of the following paragraphs:

  • Employed workers who provide their services under the terms provided for in Art. 1.1 of the Workers´Status in the various branches of economic activity.
  • Self-employed workers over the age of 18.
  • Worker-members of Associated Work Cooperatives.
  • Students
  • Civil servants or military personnel.

This inclusion takes place, irrespective of gender, marital status or occupation.

With regard to the non-contributory level, the third paragraph of the aforementioned Art. 7 mentions "Spanish citizens residing in national territory" and the fifth paragraph places "Hispanic-American, Portuguese, Brazilian, Andorran and Philippine citizens residing in Spanish territory" on an equivalent level.

Citizens from other countries will be subject to the provisions of the Treaties, Agreements, Pacts, etc., or will be dealt with according to the principle of reciprocity, implicitly or explicitly recognised.

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