The “Sozialversicherung” is the most important institution for social security in Germany. It is considered state-controlled care for potential risks and is a largely compulsory insurance for individuals and organizations.
It is divided into five areas:
Contributions to “Rentenversicherung”, the German pension scheme, are part of the statutory social security payments. The scheme protects those insured and their families if their employment capacity is endangered or reduced and when it ends due to age or death.
It covers medical rehabilitation measures, professional rehabilitation, pensions due to diminished employment capacity, old-age pensions, dependents’ pensions. Contributions to the statutory pension scheme are deducted from salaries at source. You do not have to worry about them. As a rule, the employer is responsible for paying half of the contribution towards pensions, the employee the other half. The employer registers his employee with the respective health insurance provider who then automatically forwards the registration to all the other social security providers.
Recognition of pension rights
When examining the prerequisites for entitlement, Member States of the EU or Partners to the Agreement have to recognise periods during which pension rights have been accrued in Germany. Periods during which pension rights have been accrued in countries which do not have a “Sozialversicherungsabkommen” (social security agreement) with Germany may not be added to the German periods in order to fulfill the prerequisites for entitlement. It is definitely worth informing yourself beforehand about the regulations valid in your country. If you have been employed in different countries in the course of your working life and have paid contributions to the respective social security systems you should make enquiries about your entitlements with the social security providers in the individual countries well in advance.
On principle, it is not foreseen that a single pension, comprising all the periods covered, should be paid by any one country. There are just a few exceptions aimed at avoiding mini-pensions.
Your pension scheme contributions will remain valid in every country in which you have been covered and have paid contributions until you have reached pensionable age according to the laws of the respective country. All social security providers award pensions on the basis of their own national legislation. This could mean that you might receive various different pensions.
Pension contribution refunds
If you return to a country which does not have a social security agreement with Germany you can apply for a refund of the pension contributions you have paid in Germany. After a waiting period of two years, you may apply to the “Deutsche Rentenversicherung” (German statutory pension insurance scheme) for a refund. Visit their website for more information on which contributions can be refunded.
If you are classified as a public service employee according to your employment contract you will usually be included in the statutory “Versorgungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder” (Pension Institution of the Federal Republic and the Länder, VBL). VBL provides occupational pensions. The contributions to be paid by employees under the statutory scheme are fixed at a certain percentage. If you are employed at a university on a short-term academic contract you can be exempted from the VBL’s statutory insurance scheme. However, your employer will have to register you for the VBL’s voluntary insurance scheme. In this case, it is only the employer who pays into the scheme, at a reduced premium. You can apply for exemption at the Personnel Department within two months of starting work.
Another pillar of statutory social security is “Berufsunfallversicherung” (insurance against accidents at work). Every employed person is protected by statutory accident insurance. It covers accidents that happen at the workplace or on the way to and from the workplace.
It also covers occupational illness. It does not cover private accidents. If you do not have accident insurance and have an accident, the costs of treatment will be paid by the health insurance provider. However, after serious accidents the differences begin to emerge. Particularly if expensive rehabilitation measures are required, health insurance providers often refuse to cover the costs for these measures at all, or are only prepared to take on a percentage of the costs. By contrast to the health insurance providers, the “Berufsgenossenschaften”, (professional or trade associations) which are the providers of statutory accident insurance, usually pay for all the treatment and rehabilitation measures, provided that they are medically necessary. In cases of invalidity or death, the accident insurance pays an invalidity pension or dependent’s pension. Employees are entitled to statutory insurance provided by the relevant professional association; the contributions are paid by the employer in full.
Unemployment Insurance, called “Arbeitslosenversicherung” in German, is part of statutory social security.It provides insurance cover for jobless people to ensure that they have a secure income while they are searching for work.
If you have worked in Germany before becoming unemployed and were employed subject to statutory social security regulations on 360 days in the preceding two years, and are available for recruitment you will normally be entitled to German unemployment benefit. Periods of employment in other EU Member States/EEA States and Switzerland cannot be taken into account.
Unemployment Insurance is deducted from salaries at source. You do not have to worry about them. As a rule, the employer is responsible for paying half of the contribution towards unemployment insurance, the employee the other half. The employer registers his employee with the respective health insurance provider who then automatically forwards the registration to all the other social security providers. Fellowships are usually exempt from compulsory social security payments. To what extent benefits accrued in Germany will be recognised by unemployment insurance providers in other countries must be ascertained in the respective country. If you are returning to a country which does not have a social security agreement with Germany it will not be possible to receive German unemployment benefit there. The unemployment insurance provider in Germany is the “Bundesagentur für Arbeit” (German Federal Employment Agency), represented by its local employment agencies.
Nursing Care Insurance
Another element of statutory social security is “Pflegeversicherung” (nursing care insurance). It is directly linked to health insurance cover and automatically taken out with it.
Nursing care insurance is designed for people who are in need of care and dependent on the assistance of others. It provides for domestic and in-patient care.Contributions to nursing care insurance are deducted at source from the employee’s gross salary. As a rule, the employer pays half the contributions, the employee the other half.
Childless employees pay a surcharge of 0.25% of their gross salary on top of his. The employer registers his employee with the respective health insurance provider who then automatically forwards the registration to all the other social security providers.