Retirement in Germany & Pension System [2024]

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Last Update: Feb 24, 2024 @ 4:39 am

Home 9 Family in Germany 9 Retirement in Germany & Pension System [2024]

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When you work as an expatriate in Germany, your first paycheck is when you start contributing to your pension. Therefore, let's examine what way the German pension process operates, things you shall know, and a few possible retirement possibilities for ex-patriate. Pensions are a good way to have a passive income after retirement and not have to be depending on others. It is a good idea for people to apply for pensions and start contributing to them at a young age as they will only be benefiting themselves.

Pension System In Germany

The retirement age in Germany is currently 67. You will probably be working hard up until that point. Fortunately, the German benefits framework has a compulsory annuity commitment that adds up to 18.6% of your gross pay consistently, called the ‘Gesetzliche Rentenversicherung.’ There is no need to worry as your employer splits the difference between your contributions, so you both contribute roughly 9.3%. 

Therefore, the way the system works is that everyone contributes, and once a person reaches the age of 67. Those contributions, in addition to the investments made by the pension funds, pay for the current retirees' pension payouts. By this age, most people who started early have a hefty amount and have a comfortable retirement. Moreover, they do not need to be worried about their financial situation at such an old age.

Who Is Eligible For The State Pension?

You must have worked in Germany for at least 5 years to be able to get a state pension. The number of RV you get is contingent on the contributions you have made throughout your employment in Germany. Other circumstances, in addition to time spent working, are also considered contributing periods, such as:

  • Time away from work to raise a child 
  • Periods of illness or prolonged unemployment
  • Time away from work to care for relatives

How Much State Pension Will I Receive?

A year’s contributions at the average earnings of all contributors (38.901 euros in 2022) earn one ‘pension point’. Contributions made by high or low income may then give a different output of pensions. When you stop working, a total is made of your pension points to calculate the total amount of benefits you shall receive. The number of pensions you will receive may increase or decrease according to the time and age you retire at.

Registration Process

Your employer registers you for social insurance as soon as you start work. Hence, you must start working early so that you can start contributing to your pensions early and can do it for a longer period. If you start working late, this will mean that you will contribute to your pensions for a shorter period.

First and foremost, you are registered with the health insurance fund, which forwards your registration to the nursing home insurance, pension provider, and unemployment insurance provider.

The pension provider will send you a letter with your social security card printed on it. Once you start your first job, you are needed to put in the effort as an employee. Here you must fill in your details and mention your name, maiden name, and personal insurance number on the card. Under this number, your insurance periods and qualifying wages are recorded by your pension provider.

The address of your pension provider is sent to you with your insurance number.

Self-employed individuals must sign up with their health insurance provider and, if they are required to have pension insurance, with their pension insurance provider.

Getting Your Pension From Outside Of Germany

The alternative is that you will only work in Germany for part of your career. This indicates that before moving on to a career opportunity in a different nation, you will accumulate around 15 years worth of pension contributions. But what will happen to your Germany-earned pension? Nothing will happen to your pensions as the accumulated amount can be transferred to the new place where you will be working.  Moving to another country does not mean that you will lose all your progress in pension savings.

Applying From Europe

In the future, if you have worked in several EU nations, including Germany, there is some good news for you. Even though the contributions you make will be different in each country, you will still be eligible for your German pension when you reach the specified retirement age. It is fairly straightforward to gain access to any pensions you have established within the EU. 

You can simply apply for your pension at the pension department of the EU country where you currently live or where you last worked. Your application will then be processed by the pension authority of that European nation, which will also need to collect pension records from other EU nations.

However, you should make sure to submit your application on time, as obtaining all of this information can take numerous months.

Additionally, keep in mind the various retirement ages in the various EU nations. You won't receive your country B portion of your pension until you turn 67 if you worked in country A, where the retirement age is 65, and country B, where the retirement age is 67. Take this into consideration because it could result in financial hardship if you decide to fully retire at 65. You must read all rules and regulations regarding pensions so that you do not face any financial hardships.

Applying From Outside Of Europe

That is entirely possible if you receive your German pension from outside the EU. Fortunately, Germany has consented to common government-backed retirement arrangements with different nations from everywhere on the globe, making it simpler than at any time in recent memory to gather your benefits from abroad. 

For your pension, all you need to do is apply to the German government. You will receive your pension from a German bank in your bank account if everything is in order. They will do so by sending the currency to you and converting it into the appropriate currency in the most cost-effective manner. You, as the beneficiary, are responsible for paying any bank charges, conversion fees, or losses based on the exchange rate. The German government will cover the transfer fees.

Pension Contributions For Expatriates

You can start contributing to the pension system as soon as you get a job and a license. While the contributions are the same, there are a few things you should know:

  • Foremost, as an expatriate, you must make contributions for anywhere from three to five years before the pension plan (and some others) will cover you. Therefore, there is a period in which you are not covered by state insurance, so it is wise to ensure that you are covered for the time being by private insurance.
  • You are entitled to a reimbursement of your portion of the monthly pension contributions, if you only work in Germany for a relatively brief period—i.e., less than the three to five years required to become fully eligible for coverage. 
  • You can also do this if you have been contributing for a long time, but you will not be able to collect a German pension in the future. Depending on where you're going next, this might be a great idea for some of the population. However, if you're thinking about it, it is said that you should get help from a professional in this field.

Basic Pension 

In January 2021, the federal government's basic pension plan went into effect, ensuring that everyone who has contributed significantly to the German pension system will receive an adequate pension benefit. This came about as a result of lengthy negotiations.

To put it straightforwardly, anyone who has contributed to the system for at least 33 years will receive a supplement in addition to their regular pension to ensure an essential means of subsistence. This includes both time spent working and time spent raising children or providing unpaid care. The basic pension is automatically calculated and distributed. You do not need to apply for this as it is completely done automatically.

Company Pensions

Collective pension plans are the second part of the German pension system, and workers contribute to them through their employers. In Germany, company pensions are becoming more famous as a supplement to the state pension plan, with approximately 60% of the population participating in one.

Employers are not required to provide a pension plan, but they are attractive due to government subsidies and tax breaks. Companies themselves or pension associations acting on behalf of multiple companies manage these plans.

Company Pension Contributions

Your employer typically contributes directly from your salary to the pension fund, usually ranging from 3% to 15% of your monthly gross salary. You get a tax break because you pay it before you pay income taxes. In most cases, your employer will also ‘top up’ your contributions. The type of pension plan your employer runs determines how much you and your employer give. You need to know how much of your salary is going toward your pension plan.

Company Pension Benefits

The length of time you have been contributing as well as your salary will determine how much of your pension you can withdraw when you retire. Pensions paid by companies are taxable. In the event of a company's insolvency, all contributions to pension plans are protected by law by the German Federal Government.

    Creating A Retirement Plan

    Many people choose to build a more complicated retirement plan with components from pillars one, two, and three rather than relying only on one of them. This can be assisted by a financial advisor in Germany, who will ensure that you maximize all incentives. It is important to have a good pension plan that suits you as these play a huge role in your life. It is very vital to get a great pension plan as the state of your retirement depends on this.

    Taxes In Germany

    Pensions, contrary to popular belief, typically attract income tax. Germany has generally followed a ‘downstream taxation’ policy since 2005. In this, pension income received later in life is taxed while contributions to retirement funds are increasingly tax-free.

    Since it decreases your tax stress during your professional years, this generally benefits workers. Your income and tax burden are typically lower during retirement.

    Because the proportion of pension income that is subject to taxation is gradually increasing, the year in which you retire determines how your pension income is treated for tax purposes in Germany.

    If you started receiving your pension in December 2005, half of the total amount is considered taxable income. The taxable portion of the pension has increased by 1% point each year since then. Therefore, 82% of pension income must be taxed for retirees in 2022. For the first time, pensions will be fully taxable beginning in the year 2040.

    What is the Retirement Age In Germany

    To enhance the pension system's long-term viability, Germany, like many other nations, has been gradually lowering the statutory retirement age.

    In Germany, the retirement age is 65 years and 11 months at this time. By 2031, this will reach 67.

    Anyone who has contributed to their pension for at least 45 years is exempt, allowing them to retire at the age of 63.

    Early Retirement In Germany

    Resigning from the get-go in Germany is feasible, as long as you have made commitments for something like 35 years. If you decide to retire early, your pension benefits will be reduced by the months you have left until you reach retirement age. The age factor, also known as the ‘Zugangsfaktor,’ causes your pension benefits to be reduced by about 3.6% for each year you miss.

    You can also decide to retire later if you want to. Your pension benefits could be significantly increased due to the positive impact on your age factor and ongoing contributions.

    Pension Contribution Refunds

    If you have contributed less than five years, you can get your pension payments back if you move abroad. In most cases, you won't be eligible for a refund if you haven't contributed to your pension in Germany in more than 24 months. You can't get a refund if you've been contributing to your state pension for more than five years and moved abroad. Instead, you will have to wait until you reach the legally required retirement age before you can start applying for your German pension.

    Can I Contribute To My German Pension From Abroad?

    You won't be able to earn pension points if you move abroad because you won't have to pay income tax to contribute to the statutory pension. In most cases, it is also impossible to continue making contributions to private business pension plans from outside the country.

    It is essential to promptly notify your pension provider of your relocation if you have been contributing to a state, company, or private pension plan in Germany. They will be able to help you decide which steps to take to make sure you don't miss out on future benefits.

    Advice On Pensions In Germany

    When making these kinds of financial decisions, it's always a good idea to get professional help from a lawyer or financial advisor. This will help you to make sure you know everything about German pension rules and taxes, especially if you've worked in more than one country. The details of pensions can be intricate in any nation, and your eligibility and, most importantly, your pension rate can be significantly affected by a person's specific circumstances.

    Eligibility Requirements

    Old-age pensions are paid to insured individuals who have reached retirement age, met the minimum insurance period, and possibly met additional special eligibility requirements.


    You will receive a state pension proportional to the value of your contributions if you have worked in Germany for more than five years. You could theoretically get this pension anywhere in the world, but where you live could impact how much you get paid. Furthermore, you are entitled to a reimbursement if you leave Germany before contributing for five years.

    Depending on whether you have contributed to either private pension plans or company pension funds, you may also be eligible for pension benefits. The amount you receive is contingent on your contribution amount and duration. It is usually possible to receive a private pension abroad. However, your employer will determine whether you will receive or contribute to a company pension abroad.

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