Social Security (Welfare Benefits) in Turkey

In order to benefit from the Turkish Social Security System, residents in Turkey must enrol with the Turkish Social Security Fund (Sosyal Guvenlik Kurumu - SGK).

This was formerly known as the SSK, but the name changed after the Self-Employment Organisation (Bag-Kur) and Government Officers’ Organisation (Emekli Sandığı) merged with the SSK in 2008.

Video guide to welfare in Turkey

You can get a quick overview of social security in Turkey by watching this video interview (below) with Turkish lawyer Başak Yıldız Orkun. Learn more by scrolling down and reading the detailed guide she has written with us.

Social Security Contributions

Paying into the social security scheme is compulsory for all employees. The employer and the employees both pay premiums. The employee contributes approximately 15% of the employee’s salary, which is deducted at source and paid to the state. The employer contributes about 22.5%. If the employer pays all dues on time, the 22.5% drops to 17.5% and so the total drops from 37.5% to 32.5%.

Many Turkish employers consider income tax deductions (15%-35%) also to be part of their social security contribution. It is not.

The contributions made are not paid into one big central fund, but are allocated for specific purposes:

Type of contributionEmployer paysEmployee paysTotal paid
Short-term social security2.0%0.0%2.0%
Disability, old age and death11.0%9.0%20.0%
Health insurance7.5%5.0%12.5%
Unemployment2.0%1.0%3.0%
Total22.5%15.0%37.5%

 

Agricultural workers, the self-employed, and people receiving benefits from other organisations in the system are not eligible for SGK social security benefits.

Refugees are covered, at least in part.

Those contributing to the social insurance scheme and their spouse (but not their unmarried partner) and children are insured for:

  • Work injuries and work-related illnesses,
  • Medical care, illness and pregnancy care.

Disability benefits are available only to Turkish citizens.

The unemployed, who are not students, pay TRY53 (£12/€13/US$15) per month for healthcare only.

Students pay nothing, but are entitled to free healthcare until the age of 25.

Payments & Entitlements

In very brief summary:

Healthcare

See above.

Unemployment benefits in Turkey

You will receive 40% of your monthly salary (the average of the last four months’ salary), up to a maximum 80% of the current base salary of TRY2,029 (2018).

The actual amount depends upon the length of time for which you have been contributing to the system.

You will need a minimum 600 days of contributions over the last three years. If you do not have these you receive only the minimum wage.

If you quit your job or are fired for good cause, there is no entitlement to benefit.

Otherwise, depending upon your contributions record, unemployment benefit lasts from six to ten months.

If you are self-employed, there is presently (June 2017) no entitlement to unemployment benefit. This will change in 2018, when self-employed people’s contributions to the social security system will increase to 37.5% of their profit and when they will become entitled to unemployment benefit on much the same basis as the employed.

Sickness (“temporary incapacity”) benefits in Turkey

Based on medical evidence, temporary incapacity allowance shall be paid:

  • For each day the insurance holder is suffering from temporary incapacity due to a work accidentor an occupational disease
  • For each day, starting from the third, of temporary incapacity due to sickness – provided that a minimum of 90 days of short-term insurance premium has been paid in the previous year
  • During any period of inpatient treatment or any period of rest granted due to such treatment, to self-employed insurance holders, in the cases of work accidentsor occupational disease or maternity and provided that any all premiums, including universal health insurance, are paid

Temporary incapacity allowance paid in cases of work accident, sickness and maternity shall be half of daily earnings for inpatient treatments and two thirds of the same for outpatient treatments.

Where an insurance holder suffers from more than one of these things, temporary incapacity benefit shall be payable at the highest level.

Being ill for more than your period of notice (between two and eight weeks) plus six weeks is grounds for dismissal.

Maternity benefits in Turkey

These rules are changing in 2018.

At the moment, you are entitled to eight weeks’ paid leave, paid by the state at your normal salary.

You can split this eight-week period, as you choose, before and after the birth of the child.

The new regulations will give an entitlement to an extra six months’ unpaid leave. You will also be entitled to go back to work half time for 60 days after your first birth, 120 days after your second and 180 days after your third. There is also the option of part-time work for one of the parents until the children are of school age.

Disability (“permanent incapacity”) benefits

Insurance holders whose earning power is reduced by at least 10% due to disease or disabilities caused by a work accident or occupational disease shall be entitled to permanent incapacity income.

Permanent incapacity income shall be based on the loss of earning power in the occupation of the insurance holder.

  • In case of full incapacity, the insurance holder is put on an income amounting to 70% of their monthly earning.
  • In the case of partial incapacity, entitlement shall be calculated on the same basis as for full incapacity bur proportional to the degree of incapacity. For example, if the it 30% you would receive 30% of 70% of your monthly earnings.
  • Where the insurance holder is in need of permanent care from another person, the benefit shall be calculated as 100% of earnings

Few people have private disability insurance.

Old age pensions in Turkey

These rules, too, change in 2018.

Entitlement depends upon when you started work. The system is complicated.

For example:

  • If you started work before 1999 and have accumulated 5,500 working days on which you have paid social securitypremiums, you will be entitled to retire at 58 (man) or 56 (woman)
  • If you started work after 1999 but before 2008 and have accumulated 5,500 working days, you will be entitled to retire at 59 (man) or 57 (woman)
  • If you started work after 2008 and have accumulated 7,200 working days (about 28 years), you will be entitled to retire at 60 (man) or 58 (woman). The entitlement age is planned to rise steadily to 65 for both men and women over the period from 2036-2048.

Private pensions are also very popular in Turkey. They will soon be compulsory. They are encouraged by the government, which (subject to a maximum) contributes 25% towards your pension contributions, even if you are unemployed.

Other benefits

There are various other benefits payable to various groups of people: e.g. breastfeeding benefits, survivors’ pensions, death grants, marriage benefits and funeral benefits.

More Information

Much more information about all of these benefits is available (in several languages, including English) on the Social Security Institution website.

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