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Updated by Helmut Schwarzer on 06.03.2015

The Brazilian social protection system is based on three pillars that ensure coverage of the population against the risks faced throughout the lifecycle.

The first pillar consists of social insurance policy, which is contributory and requires compulsory affiliation. The social insurance system covers individuals in old age, those with disabilities and survivors. In addition, it provides maternity coverage, involuntary unemployment protection and also protection for the dependants of insured people who are detained.

The second pillar consists of social assistance policy, which is non-contributory and ensures universal coverage of the Brazilian population. This policy ensures a network of social assistance benefits that protects people in situations of increased vulnerability. The benefits provided by the system include a pension for the elderly and the disabled with limited resources. Programmes of income transfers for those with insufficient revenuese are also integrated into this policy, as are other programmes unified in 2003 under the umbrella of the Bolsa Família Programme.

The third pillar of social security encompasses health policy. Access to the third pillar is guaranteed for the entire population and is based on the principle of equity. In Brazil, health policy is embodied in the Unified Health System (SUS).

It is worth mentioning that the Brazilian social security system covers the entire population against all basic social risks under the ILO Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention (No. 102), 1952.