Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Mr. and Mrs. Swiss and the Swiss Citizens Pension Scheme

This is based on the truth. Names have been changed to protect the people involved.
It was a nice relaxed quiet Sunday as always. There was no real stress. Mrs. Swiss had everything under control. Dinner was nice and comfortable to cook, some vegetable, a nice steak to fry and potatoes; a thirty minute job. After a quick clean up in the morning she settled down to a few computer hobbies she had. She noticed that Mr. Swiss was busy filling out a form he had received from the tax authorities. He did not look very happy, mildly expressed.

Mrs. Swiss was now at the age where she was entitled to a state pension, but in Switzerland your money does not just arrive, you get a written invitation from the government and if you fill out the gaps in the form correctly there is no problem.

Dinner was almost ready, and Mrs. Swiss decided to start serving. It was then that a slight problem occurred. Mr. Swiss appeared waving a small plastic card.

“Do you know where yours is?” he asked Mrs. Swiss.

“What’s that?” was her answer and threw Mr. Swiss a quick glare, thinking the dinner is nearly ready.

“It’s the new pension card. It replaced the old cardboard one. You have one as well.”

Oh dear, Mrs. Swiss was uncertain.

“I am just serving dinner, can’t it wait until after we have eaten.” Mrs. Swiss was startled, unsure.

“That is no problem, it is the most important Swiss permit. Everyone has one, so where is yours?”

“I don’t remember ever having one. It must be in the safe box where we keep all our important stuff.” She did not really know, but was sure it was there with everything else.

“I have already looked through it all, and there is only the old document. Your new one is not there.”

Mrs. Swiss wanting to eat, and playing for time, she said she will look for it after lunch. In the meanwhile her oldest son had already found his, he always had a place for everything. In spite of the crisis, dinner was eaten and enjoyed. Afterwards, there was no chance of a coffee; Mrs. Swiss knew she would have to start searching. Basically she did not even remember receiving a plastic card to replace the old one, so she had even less idea where it could be.

The handbag was emptied, the safe box was once more examined, but there was no trace. She then remembered that she had some correspondence with the pension office when she had stopped work. She had still paid into her state pension scheme regularly, as all good Swiss citizens do,  and she found a file where all the documents were. Nervously flipping through the various sheets of paper she discovered a paper clip on one of the sheets holding – lo and behold – a small bendable plastic card. With shaking fingers she detached it and called her husband (staying cool of course).

“Is this the card you  mean?” she asked in a nonchalant way.

“Yes, that’s the one, where was it?”.

“I found it pinned to the letter I got from the pension people last year. Such a stupid cheap little plastic thing, it’s no wonder I don’t remember it. The old cardboard one was much better.”

Mrs. Swiss did not actually get an answer, as Mr. Swiss now had another problem. He had to supply the pension numbers on the form for the complete family and No. 2 son did not live at home. A telephone call was made. That can be quite a risky thing on Sunday morning, but Mr. Swiss was lucky. Son was awake and will supply the details by e-mail.

Family Swiss were now thinking that the emergency was over, it was not. Tax people do not make the job so easy.

“When did you start your last job” Mr. Swiss asked Mrs. Swiss.

Mrs. Swiss gave an answer “About thirty years ago, why?”

“Because I have to fill it in on the form. “About” is no good, they want the exact year.”

“Then we will have to work it out.” said Mrs. Swiss.

“They want exact details. You must have a reference or letter to confirm it somewhere.”

So Mrs. Swiss pulled out the safe box once again. It was heavy and she did swear under her breath about the problems with the weight. She managed to drag the box onto the floor, picking it up would have been dangerous due to its excessive weight. She started to search through all the documents and was surprised at what she found. She even found her certificates from the various shorthand and typing examinations she had passed when at school in England, as well as her GCE (GSE) results. She was wallowing in far gone memories of school days when the world was intact. There was suddenly a call from the living room, bringing her back to the realities of life,  where Mr. Swiss was trying to complete a very long and complicated form.

“Have you found it? I also need details from the other jobs you have had in Switzerland with all the dates as well as a copy from your foreign work permit when you entered Switzerland. They also want reference letters from your earlier employers going back to when you worked in Zürich. When did you come to Switzerland?”

“Just a minute” Mrs. Swiss was getting rather worked up “do they want my blood group as well? This was all forty-four years ago. How should I know?”

“Have a look in the box” Mr. Swiss said from the other room “I am sure I saw a few letters there from your previous employers.”

Typical Swiss, thought Mrs. Swiss, they have to know everything. What country wants to know all this rubbish, they must have records their selves. Mrs. Swiss had another search and found all the letters needed from her previous employers. She even found her immunisation cards from when she was a baby as well as her English National Health Service card, in case she had ever returned to England.

It took Mr. Swiss about two hours if not more to fill out a form to entitle him and Mrs. Swiss to a joint state pension. He now has an envelope bulging with documents and the said form which will be sent registered by post as soon as possible. Mrs. Swiss did say she would go to the office herself and tell them where to stuff their form as she was the opinion it was just around the corner. Unfortunately that was the office for local affairs. This is now a state pension scheme and the office is in the capital city of Switzerland, Bern.

There might be a second part to this adventure. It depends on the answer received by Mr. and Mrs. Swiss from the authorities.  

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