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Germany - Pensions and other old age benefits

Under what circumstances am I entitled to benefits?

Insured persons who reach retirement age and have completed the minimum insurance period as well as possibly other special eligibility requirements receive old-age pensions.

Eligibility requirements

Under the state pension, insured parties are entitled to an old-age pension.

The prerequisite is that you:

  • have reached a certain age (pensionable age)
  • have completed a minimum insurance period (qualifying time), and
  • have fulfilled certain special insurance requirements for some old age pensions.

Basic old-age pension:

Because of the demographic development, Germany has raised the age threshold for the basic old-age pension. For people born between 1 January 1947 and 31 December 1958, the previous basic age threshold of 65 years has been pushed back one month for every following year, and for those born between 1959 and 1963, by two months per year. For anyone born after 1 January 1964, the basic age threshold of 67 will apply.

For the basic old age pension, the general qualifying period of five years must be observed. Contributions periods and supplementary periods are added to them.

In addition to your basic old-age pension, you can earn further wages/salaries with no ceiling, without anything being deducted from the pension.

Early pension due to age:

The age thresholds for early pensions will be adjusted along with the new basic age threshold

You can apply for an early pension from 63 years of age, if you can prove 35 years of qualifying pension contributions. As compensation for the longer pension period, for each month up to the statutory retirement age (for the old-age pensions of severely disabled people up to 65), the pension is reduced by 0.3% (discount).

People with severe disabilities receive an old-age pension when they:

  • have reached the age threshold,
  • are recognised as severely disabled at the time they retire and
  • have completed a qualifying period of 35 years.

As for statutory old-age pensions, the age threshold for a full pension for people with severe disabilities is also being raised from 63 to 65 in stages for those born in 1952 and onwards (see above), with the earliest possible retirement age going from 60 to 62. As compensation for the longer pension period, the pension for people with severe disabilities is reduced by 0.3% (discount) for each month that the pension is paid before the age limit allowing retirement on a pension without deductions.

You can maintain the old age pension for parties who have been insured particularly long without deductions, if you are at least 63 years old and have fulfilled a qualifying period of 45 years. For qualifying periods compulsory contributions from employment, self-employed activities and care as well as times of child education up to the child completing its tenth year of age are taken into account. Times of receiving unemployment benefits and other wage replacement benefits for the promotion of employment (excluding the last two years before the start of the pension) are included in the calculation. On the other hand times of receiving unemployment benefits II or unemployment benefits are not included. Furthermore voluntary contributions are taken into account, if 18 years of compulsory contributions can be proven.

The starting age of this pension will be gradually raised to the age of 65 for insured parties born before 31 December 1952. This raise takes place for every year in increments of 2 months, and from the birth year 1964, the retirement age of 65 years will be achieved.

Special provisions apply to miners: They are entitled to a discount-free old-age pension for miners who have worked underground for many years from their 60th birthday and after a qualifying period of 25 years. The entry-age for this pension will be gradually increased for insured persons born after 31 December 1952. The increase takes place in increments of 1 month per year, and for the years 1959 to 1963 in increments of 2 months per year. For people born after 1 January 1964 the age limit is 62 years.

If you want to work as an old-age pensioner, you can submit an application for partial retirement, or postpone the beginning of your retirement. You should take advice from your pension provider before you take up employment or an occupation as the beneficiary of an early pension.

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

Statutory provision in Germany for the elderly consists of:

  • the state pension,
  • civil service pension,
  • professional pension schemes and
  • old-age provision for farmers.

All employees, including contracted employees and workers, are obliged to belong to one of these old-age insurance systems. This also applies to self-employed people in certain professions, including farmers and members of professions organised into associations, such as doctors, architects, craftsmen, pharmacists, engineers, accountants and lawyers, along with others. Self-employed people who are not subject to compulsory insurance can join the state pension scheme through compulsory insurance or voluntary insurance.

Low-paid workers (regular remuneration of a maximum of EUR 450 per month) who started their employment after 31 December 2012 are subject to compulsory pension obligations. They can however ask to be exempted from compulsory insurance. Compulsory pension obligations do not apply to short-term employees and people who have worked less than three months or no more than 70 days in the calendar year and do not exercise this employment as a profession.

The amount of your earnings-related and contributory pension always depends on the insurance years covered and the total of the amounts paid. Reduced contribution and contribution-free periods can also be added to this.

Application forms

Essentially, only those who have applied in advance to the relevant pension provider receive pensions.

You can obtain the pension application form from your pension provider and can also find it at the website of Deutsche Rentenversicherung

Pension claims which you do not claim immediately are not lost: If you only make your pension application later or if you first take only a partial pension, you will receive a higher full pension later on. For each month after reaching the standard retirement age in which you have not applied for your full pension despite having fulfilled the prerequisites, your eventual rent will increase by 0.5% (6% per year). You should ask your pension provider about the process so that you do not miss any application deadlines.

Your rights

European Commission publications:

If you have social insurance in one or more countries other than Germany, ask about the effects on your pension scheme:

Further information

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 the addresses at

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

The pension scheme contribution for 2017 is 18.7% of your earned income. Half of the contribution is paid by the employer and the other half by the employee. There is a contribution assessment ceiling for this too:

You do not make any pension contributions on earned income above EUR 76,200 per annum in West Germany ("old" German states) and EUR 68,400 in East Germany ("new" German states) (as at 2017).

Registration process:

As soon as you have taken up employment, your employer registers you for social insurance.

First of all, you are registered at the health insurance fund (health insurance company), which forwards the registration to the nursing care insurance, the pension provider and the unemployment insurance company. You receive an insurance number, under which your pension provider (usually Deutsche Rentenversicherung [DRV]) registers your period of insurance coverage and your qualifying remuneration.

After you start your first employment where you are liable to contributions as an employee, you receive a social security card from the pension provider. The card contains your surname, maiden name, first name and your insurance number. In some professions (e.g. on building sites), you must bring your identification (passport or personal ID card) to work. Please ask your employer about this.

With your insurance number you receive the address of your pension provider.

The self-employed must register themselves at their health insurance company.

For some professions there are also a few separate social insurances which have not been listed in these guidelines: