The State provides protection to citizens through social protection systems, reducing their exposure to social risks known as contingencies. As a rule this protection is guaranteed as the counterpart of social contributions, being financed by tax revenues when it envisages other social goals such as ensuring minimum income levels. In Portugal the right to social protection is established in the Constitution and is carried out mainly through the Social Security System.
The origins of the Portuguese Social Security System date back to the 1910’s when various sectorial insurance schemes were created, most of which with national scope. These schemes were integrated in the Social Security System in the 1970’s, originating a unified Social Security System. However, the Civil Servants Pension Scheme, set up in 1929 to provide protection to civil servants, remained separate allowing public employees to benefit from a special scheme. Nowadays there are two public social protection systems.