FAQ pension scheme

Working in Europe | Pension rights | Germany

Foreigners may join the German pension scheme on a voluntary basis provided Germany is their habitual abode. In order to be eligible for a pension, at least 60 monthly instalments have to be accrued. The pension may be drawn at home at a later stage. In addition, social security agreements concluded with Germany may in some cases allow for rights accrued in Germany to be taken into account in calculating the pension entitlement in one's own country.

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

The waiting period for the German pension scheme is 60 months. Therefore, if the period during which contributions are paid lasts less than 60 months, reimbursement is basically an option. However, as a result of the provisions contained in Regulations (EC) 883/04 and bilateral social security agreements, it may be advantageous not to touch the German pension contributions. On reaching retirement age, all the pension rights accrued in all the states where one has worked 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 at he same time.

Having paid 144 monthly contributions you are eligible for a German pension if you have reached pension age. The size 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 size of the pension include periods which contribute to working periods, though no contributions were paid during them, such as education, child-rearing or unemployment.


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