FAQ on pension scheme

Leaving Europe, Working in Europe | Departure conditions/formalities, Pension rights | Germany

The waiting period for the German pension scheme is 60 months. Thus, if the period during which contributions are paid lasts less than 60 months, reimbursement is generally an option. However, as a result of the provisions contained in Regulation (EC) 883/04 and bilateral social security agreements, it may be advantageous not to touch your German pension contributions. In this case, upon reaching retirement age, all the pension rights accrued in all the contracting states are taken into account. They are not lost. Either the periods during which rights have been accrued are included in calculating the pension entitlement at home, or one receives proportional German and foreign pensions concurrently.

In general, yes. But it may be worth leaving the Austrian contribution untouched as, according to Regulation (EC) 883/04, it will be taken into account in calculating your German pension entitlement.

You can submit an application for a refund of contributions to the pension system after a waiting period of 24 months after you have stopped paying contributions to the obligatory pension scheme. If contributions have been paid for at least 5 years, then the general qualifying period for a standard old-age pension has been fulfilled. In this case, instead of a refund, it might be worth leaving the German pension contributions where they are and applying for a German as well as a Russian pension at the age of 67.

Accrued German benefits are credited to the British pension entitlement if the qualifying period for a German pension has not been fulfilled. If the qualifying period has been fulfilled, you will receive both a German and a British pension once you retire.

The German statutory pension scheme only applies to people who are in employment. On principle, anyone living on a fellowship is not subject to the German statutory pension scheme.

However, if contributions have been paid into the German pension scheme, for example if a fellow has been employed or paid voluntary contributions to it, citizens of the EU are eligible all contributions recognised that have been paid within the EU. Depending on the duration, periods during which rights have been accrued will either be taken into account when calculating your pension entitlement in your own country or you will receive various portions of your pension from different EU states.

In the case of citizens of third countries, it depends whether a social security agreement has been concluded between Germany and your own country on mutual recognition of accrued rights. If there is no such social security agreement, you are only eligible for a German pension if contributions have been paid to the German pension scheme for at least 60 months. For shorter periods, it may be worth applying to have your contributions refunded.

On principle, pension contributions paid abroad entitle you to a pension in the country in which they have been paid into the pension scheme. Accrued foreign benefits are only credited to the German qualifying period if the qualifying period for a foreign pension has not been fulfilled and there is a social security agreement with Germany. In this case, agreements of this kind exist with both the USA and Great Britain.

As you have paid 144 monthly contributions to the pension system, you are eligible for a German pension if you have reached pensionable age. The amount of the pension is calculated individually during the authorisation process. Apart from the amount and number of monthly contributions made, factors which may affect the amount of your pension include periods which are creditable although no contributions were paid during them, such as education, child-rearing or unemployment.

Periods of childcare abroad are recognised by the German statutory pension scheme if the parent responsible for the child care or their spouse paid the required contributions into the German statutory pension scheme with respect of work carried out abroad, immediately prior to or during the period of child care.

If this is not the case, then periods of child care abroad can still be recognised if the parent responsible for the child care or their spouse still maintains employment relations with a German employer during the period of work abroad. An example of this may be a dormant employment relationship or leave of absence.

The same is true in the event that the reason the spouse did not make the required contributions was because, for instance, he or she was exempted from the requirement to join the statutory pension scheme due to their status as a civil servant.

Applications for the recognition of child care periods should be submitted to the German Federal Pension Insurance (Deutschen Rentenversicherung) on form V800.


Disclaimer: All the FAQs and the information on which the answers are based are carefully monitored. However, we cannot assume any responsibility for contents. All the contents are of a general nature and cannot deal conclusively with every individual case. They are not necessarily complete, comprehensive or completely up to date. They neither constitute legal advice nor legally-binding information and cannot be a substitute for expert advice.

Last updated: 11 January 2022