The social security data exchange ecosystem

The eAHV/IV association defines interfaces and standards for data exchange and coordinates the digitisation projects for AHV and IV. The goal is to reduce the administrative burden for all parties involved. This requires a highly available infrastructure and an ecosystem that actively connects the parties and partners involved. Today, 108 implementing agencies are active in the first pillar of social insurance. They are organised in the IV-Stellen Konferenz (IVSK), the Konferenz der Kantonalen Ausgleichskassen (KKAK) and the Schweizerische Vereinigung der Verbandsausgleichskassen (VVAK). The Central Compensation Office (CCO) is the central enforcement body of the Confederation in the area of Pillar 1 social insurance. It covers: old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV), disability insurance (IV) and the income compensation scheme (EO). The eAHV/IV Association was founded in 2004 by the four members KKAK, VVAK, IVSK and ZAS. The association unites all funds, all associations, the ZAS and the IT of the AHV and IV implementation offices and forms the bridge between German and Latin Switzerland. As the representative of the interests (professional association) of over 100 implementing agencies, the e-AHV/IV Association is continuously modernising the data exchange (DA) in the AHV and IV. The association’s overriding goal is to relieve companies of administrative work. Together with representatives of the implementing agencies, the IT of the implementing agencies, the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO) and third parties, eAHV/IV defines and develops interfaces and standards for data exchange and additionally coordinates eGovernment and digitisation projects for the AHV and IV.

The network

Figure 1: Ecosystem of the eAHV/IV

Due to the statutory task performed by the implementing agencies, eAHV/IV has a large network of partners. These are positioned very differently and perform different roles. For example, eAHV/IV is the topic leader for eGovernment Switzerland on the topic of AHV/IV. The eCH

association defines the nationwide standards that are applied as far as possible in eAHV/IV.

Art. 33: Confidentiality: Persons involved in the implementation, control or supervision of the implementation of social security legislation must maintain confidentiality vis-à-vis third parties.

Close cooperation takes place specifically with the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO)

. As the supervisory authority, the FSIO is responsible for setting requirements/standards for the implementation of social insurance. Some of the laws and directives also deal with the topics of data exchange, information security or modernisation of supervision (in preparation, consultation). Specifically, for example, Article 33 of the ATSG (Federal Act on the General Part of Social Insurance Law).

Categories of data exchange

Data exchange in the 1st pillar of social insurance can be divided into several categories:

    • Data exchange with the insured person
    • Company / employer
    • Authorities (Confederation / Canton / Municipality)
    • Third parties (health / accident insurers / SUVA / RSA / etc.)

Figure 2: Schematic representation of data exchange

High-availability infrastructure – sedex

The exchange of data with the employer, the insured person and the municipal authorities is basically defined by the implementing agencies or the IT of the DS. The only exception is the exchange of data from the employer via third parties – for example Swissdec or easyGov. The majority of our data exchange projects use sedex. sedex stands for secure data exchange and is a service of the Federal Statistical Office (FSO). The platform is designed for secure asynchronous data exchange between organisational units. The platform is highly available (24/7). sedex was set up as part of the modernisation of the census from 2010 onwards in order to ensure the delivery of statistics from the municipal population services and the federal register of persons to the FSO. Since sensitive data is exchanged, the platform had to meet high security and traceability requirements from the very beginning. For this purpose, sedex uses modern encryption procedures as well as security certificates of the Swiss Government PKI. Since going live in mid-2008, sedex has also opened up to participants outside of register harmonisation and statistics. Today, sedex is used by over 4,850 organisational units in over 60 domains. In 2017, approximately 14.8 million messages were transmitted via sedex. sedex acts as a “postman” and can be compared to a registered letter. It is very gratifying that more than 30 million records are already exchanged electronically in the 1st pillar social insurance ecosystem.

For the future

One challenge for the future will be the electronic contact with insured persons. Although the signing of the Tallinn Declaration has defined that every citizen may communicate electronically with the authorities in Switzerland, this is still a long way off. It is important to bear in mind that in the context of social insurance, most data is personal and the majority of it is classified as requiring special protection. Due to this situation, it must be ensured that the communication from the implementing agencies to the insured persons is correct. This means that an onboarding process is necessary to ensure that the mail addresses used are indeed correct. This will be a very big challenge, especially since all citizens of Switzerland are integrated in the social security system. One approach to solving this would be, for example, the nationwide introduction of the e-citizen dossier, as described in the study “Digital Switzerland – a location for the future”.


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AUTHOR: Christian Zeuggin

Christian Zeuggin is Managing Director of the OASI, family compensation fund and daily sickness benefit fund EXFOUR, President of the eAHV/IV association, and a board member of the Interessen-Gemeinschaft-Ausgleichskassen-Informations-Systeme (IGAKIS). He heads the technical department of the Association of Compensation Funds (VVAK) and is a member of the board of Swissdec.

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