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The statutory pension insurance is part of the German social security system and is intended to secure financially employed persons after their employment. Insurance periods acquired in other European Union (EU) countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are taken into account when determining the pension entitlement.

1. Statutory pension insurance

As an employee you are in principle compulsorily insured in the statutory pension insurance. Depending on the activity, the self-employed can also be compulsorily insured (e.g. craftsmen, artists, educators). Other self-employed persons can be compulsorily insured in the pension insurance upon application. To do this, contact the German Pension Insurance.

Pension insurance includes various benefits:

  • The pension provides financial security in old age if you no longer receive income from work. To receive an old-age pension, a certain age must be reached and a certain number of legal pension periods must have been completed. ( Regular retirement pension).
  • Pension insurance also supports you if you become incapacitated in the course of your working life, that is, if you can no longer or only partially work due to illness or a disability. (Reduced earning capacity pension). You will then receive rehabilitation benefits to restore your ability to work or a pension for reduced ability to work if your state of health means that you will no longer be able to work or will only be able to work to a limited extent for the foreseeable future.
  • In addition, the pension insurance offers comprehensive survivor protection (Survivor pension). It pays pensions to widows, widowers and orphans of the deceased insured persons.

Up to the year of birth 1946, the age of 65 is decisive for drawing the standard old-age pension. For the following years of birth, the standard age limit is gradually increased up to 2012 to 67 years old. From 2029, this age limit will apply to everyone born in 1964 or later. However, the statutory pension insurance includes other old-age pensions, which allow earlier retirement under special personal conditions, for example if there is a severe disability and/or long-term contributions to the statutory pension insurance.

In addition to the decisive age, a prerequisite for the standard old-age pension is that you have paid into the pension insurance for a certain period of time. A minimum insurance period of 5 years is sufficient. If the period is not long enough to qualify for a pension, periods of insurance or employment completed in other countries will be taken into account.  From the age of 27, you will receive your personal pension information with the current status of your pension entitlements from the German pension insurance every year. From the age of 55, you will receive personal pension information every three years. It replaces the pension information.

A principle in pension insurance is: The more and the longer you pay in contributions and the higher these are, the higher your future pension will be. In addition to the contribution periods from earned income, periods in which children were raised or relatives were cared for can also be taken into account.

Note that the statutory pension is less than your income while working. In order to be able to maintain your standard of living in old age, you should consider supplementing the statutory pension insurance with a company and/or private provision.

2. Insurance periods in other countries

If you have worked in one or more EU countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, the following applies: Each country in which you have an insurance period of more than a year pays a separate pension as soon as you have reached the relevant retirement age in that country. You may be entitled to an old-age pension at 60 in one country but have to wait until 67 in another.

The amount of the pension depends on the insurance periods completed there. To meet the requirements for a pension entitlement, all insurance periods completed in the respective countries are taken into account. You will receive a summary of the decision made by the individual countries (Document P1). This notification is created by the pension provider with whom you submitted your pension application.

Tip: Find the right social security institution for you in this directory (in English) sorted by country. In Germany, the pension insurance institution with which you have paid your German contributions (e.g. Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund) is responsible for you.

Relevant for cross-border commuters: Whether you live in Germany and work abroad or vice versa – you pay your pension insurance contributions in the country in which you work. If you only work across borders temporarily, exceptions may apply.

3. Pension application

You submit the pension application in the country in which you live, unless you have never worked there. In that case, make the application in the country in which you were last insured. If you submit a pension application in one country, it applies to all countries in which you have completed insurance periods.

Tip: You can find out what needs to be considered when applying for a pension here.

4. Medical treatment

As a pensioner, you are also entitled to treatment in the event of illness in the country where you live.

Example: You receive a pension from Portugal and are insured there, but you live in Germany. Then you can also get medical treatment in Germany. However, you should register with the German health insurance company. To register, you need a form (Form S1) from your health insurance company in Portugal. Further information on health insurance and medical treatment can be found here.

5. Additional information

The German pension insurance provides information in several languages under the heading Work and pension abroad . In the other language versions you will find the information that is important to you under the keywords “Insurance” and “International”. The brochure Living and Working in Europe is also helpful - available for download in several languages.