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Pension gap at 47: what to do

A pensive woman looks out of the window.
Occupational benefit scheme conundrum: how can I save up for retirement despite having a low income and modest savings?
I am 47 and am a divorced single mother who has worked part-time and earned less than the BVG minimum. This year, I was finally included in my employer’s pension fund. I currently work for an hourly wage without paid leave. My savings are correspondingly modest. Is there any way for me to set aside money for retirement anyway?
Asked by Maria S. 16.03.2016

Reto Kleiner, Head Key Account Management, Private Pension Plans, Helvetia Insurance
Basel, 22.03.2016

Dear Ms S.,

Many people are in a similar predicament and worry about saving for old age. When it comes to setting aside more money, there is no substitute for “old-fashioned” saving. I recommend investing whatever you can spare – no matter how small it may be – in a restricted pillar 3a plan. You can deduct all paid-in amounts from your taxes as long as they add up to no more than CHF 6,768. Your best option is to schedule an appointment with a pension advisor in your region. He or she can analyse your situation in detail and help you find a solution that works for you.

If you haven’t saved enough by the time you retire, you can request supplementary benefits from your municipality. Between these benefits, your AHV old-age pension and the small pension from your pension fund, you will definitely have enough to live on without worries.

By the way, you are entitled to four weeks of paid leave a year even if you earn an hourly wage. Generally, a levy of 8.33% (assuming four weeks of leave) is applied to all wages paid to hourly wage workers. The levy must be specified in your employment contract and shown separately on your salary statement. You can also demand holiday pay retroactively if there is no record that you ever received it.  

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