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Germany - Disability benefits

Under what circumstances am I entitled to benefits?

Pension policy holders who are fully or partly unable to remain economically active owing to illness or disability are entitled, under certain circumstances, to a pension.

Eligibility requirements

Pensions due to a reduction in earnings capacity:

A disability pension may be claimed by policy holders who, on health grounds:

  • cannot work at least six hours (partial disability); or
  • cannot work at least three hours (full disability) per day in gainful employment.

To receive this pension, you must prove that you:

  • have made contributions for at least 60 months (qualifying period), that is, have paid into the pension scheme for 5 years, and 
  • have paid three years of compulsory insurance contributions in the five years preceding the beginning of the reduced earning capacity.

The calculation of these periods does not include times when you are too sick to work, unemployed, in schooling or not economically active due to your children, if they are not also periods of compulsory contributions. You may however extend the period of five years.

Other rules apply to insured parties who before suffered a partial disability due to an accident at work or have a reduced earning capacity in the first 6 years after completing training. In this case the qualifying period can be completed early.

Pensions on account of partial disability in case of inability to work:

Policy holders born before 2 January 1961 and who meet the above conditions also receive a pension due to partial reduction of earning capacity if they are no longer able to work for six hours per day in their previous qualified or any other profession they could reasonably follow (occupational invalidity pension).

Supplementary income limit

If you work while receiving your disability pension, your earnings may reduce the amount of pension or your pension may not be paid at all. You should therefore seek advice from your pension provider as a person on a temporary disability pension before accepting employment or a self-employed occupation.

Special regulations for miners:

Miners are considered to have partial occupational disability if they:

  • can no longer practise their previous or comparable work owing to illness or disability; and
  • cannot pursue any comparable profession outside the mining industry.

Miners over 50 years of age can receive a pension if they no longer carry out an occupation that is economically equivalent to their previous one. This is, however, conditional on the qualifying period (see above) of 25 years of permanent mining work underground being met. Furthermore, in the five years before the beginning of the reduced earning capacity in the mining industry three years must have been years with compulsory contributions paid on the basis of employment in the mining industry, and a minimum insurance period of five years must have been completed with payments into an insurance of the miners’ association.

What am I entitled to and where can I apply for the benefits?

The amount of your earnings-related and contributory pension always depends on the number of insurance years covered and the total amount of payments. In addition to the contribution periods, periods of reduced contribution and contribution-free periods can also increase the pension. You receive a pension only if you apply for it in advance from the pension provider.

Reintegration benefits:

If the fitness for work of an insured party can be maintained or restored, in place of a pension the pension provider pays for the required services for reintegration such as rehabilitation measures, retraining or other training programmes (rehabilitation has priority over pension), if the insurance and personal conditions are satisfied.

The pension provider also covers:

  • Benefits for reintegration into the workplace,
  • Benefits to promote fitness for work,
  • Preventive measures and
  • Inpatient remedial treatments for the children of policy holders and pensioners,

If these contribute to improving or recovering their threatened or already compromised health. This includes, for example, medical treatments, products, spa treatments or training courses that aim to prepare participants for a new professional activity.

During any such services to assist with reintegration, the pension provider pays the insured parties and their families a transitional allowance to compensate for the loss of income. The amount is determined by the policy holder's last income. The pension provider also assumes, where appropriate, travel costs, costs of travel aids or household help and childcare costs.

Application forms

You can obtain the application forms from your pension provider.

Your rights

You can obtain further information on your rights and entitlements from your pension provider. The state pension providers are

European Commission publications:

Further information

The state pension providers are

You can obtain free advice and information from the pension providers. For most people in Germany, this is the Deutsche Rentenversicherung with offices in the larger cities.

You can find their addresses on the websites listed above.

You can obtain information by telephone on the toll-free number 0800 1000 4800