Pension insurance is part of the legally prescribed social insurance scheme that includes health insurance, unemployment insurance, professional accident insurance, and long-term care insurance.
As soon as you have concluded an employment contract in Germany, you are automatically enrolled in statutory pension insurance (there are exceptions for contracts that are below or above the statutory minimum or maximum level of EUR 450 or EUR 5,800 for East Germany). Statutory pension insurance is deducted directly from your gross salary and currently amounts to 18.6% (split equally between the employer and employee).
In addition, employees in public service receive additional insurance through the Versorgungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder (VBL; Federal and State Government Employees Retirement Fund).
As a scholarship holder, you are typically released from social insurance obligations. To close gaps in your pension history, however, you can voluntarily enroll in statutory pension insurance for the duration of your scholarship.
Whenever you take up employment for the first time in Germany, you will receive a pension insurance number from the public health insurance company in which you are enrolled. If you lose your pension insurance number, please contact the German Pension Fund.
In every country in which you were insured and paid contributions to pension insurance, your pension insurance entitlement remains in force until you reach the retirement age in that state. You will not receive a single pension payout; instead, you will draw various pension payments from different countries according to their national regulations.
Please note that there are minimum amounts of time that you must have worked in order for your pension claims to be vested, and that these times can vary from country to country.
The following generally applies: Claim periods that you have accumulated in Germany are calculated together with those of other EU member states, EEA states, Switzerland, as well as countries with which Germany has concluded a social security agreement. Neither the DRV nor the VBL refund the contributions you have paid in these cases.
If you have worked in a country that does not have an ageement with Germany, then these insurance periods cannot be combined. In this case, after a waiting period of two years, then you can request a refund of the pension contributions you have made from the German Pension Fund. Payments made to the VBL cannot be refunded.
Would you like to receive advice on international pension law? Take advantage of the DRV's International Advising Days or call them to make an appointment: