Air and Sea Workers, and the Reduction Coefficients

Workers in the transport sector generally endure difficult working conditions due to the long periods of work they must perform away from their homes, the distance from their families, the arduous schedules and, on occasions, the dangerous and unhealthy nature of their work; in short, the working conditions of all these workers could be defined as, at least, complicated.

In view of this reality, different Social Security systems in various countries have provided early retirement procedures for those workers who, foreseeably, suffer a deterioration in their health and put their physical or psychological integrity at risk in the performance of their professional duties. Good examples of this are workers of maritime and air transport sector, who we will focus on in this article.

In accordance with the above, different international regulations establish regimes for taking early retirement, i.e., they apply what in Spain are called “reduction coefficients” (COE).

These “reduction coefficients” of retirement pensions are coefficients that are applied to determine the amount of the pension when there has been an early retirement allowed by the Special Regime for Sea Workers (RD 1311/2007 of October 5) for example, or the Special Regime for Flight Personnel or Aerial Work (RD 1559/1986, of June 18). But when and how should these reduction coefficients be applied?

They will be applied exclusively when the worker has considered it necessary to lower his retirement age. The period of time during which the worker’s retirement age is lowered will be counted as having contributed for the sole purpose of determining the percentage applicable to calculate the amount of the retirement pension. In other words, the objective of the COE is none other than to compensate for the effects that retirement at an earlier age has on the amount of the retirement pension.

That is to say, if the worker has not considered it necessary to lower the retirement age, it will not be possible to apply the reduction coefficients to increase the amount of the pension to be received by the worker.

This explanation is supported by Supreme Court Ruling 807/2021, of July 20, 2021, which concludes that the reduction coefficients cannot be computed when the worker is 65 years old, since, in that case, he would be receiving a higher pension than the one he would have obtained if he had retired at 65 years of age. Since he/she is not entitled to the application of the reduction coefficient for being over 65 years of age, the reduction coefficient will not be recognized for the calculation of the pro-rata contribution percentage.

For this reason, we recommend that all workers who may be affected by the early retirement age and, therefore, by the application of the reduction coefficients be appropriately informed and advised by professionals on the optimum age at which to retire and the resulting contribution percentage at the time of retirement.