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Pensions in Germany in 2021, 2020: retirement age, types of pensions, length of service, pension registration, applying for a pension

This page contains detailed information about retirement in Germany. Here you will learn about the retirement age, minimum length of service and how to apply for and receive pension, as well as about the amount of the social, minimum pension in Germany, how much pensioners receive in the country, how it is calculated, what types of pensions exist. Here you can also find out interesting details, for example, at what age men and women in Germany retire, how many pensioners are there in the country, and also what pensions are received in Germany by civil servants, police officers and representatives of other professions. The information on the page is mainly based on the data from the Federal Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs. At the bottom of the page you can share your experience on pensions. Further on, select the topics you are interested in from the content:


In addition, the information on an individual page of our website is devoted to the calculation and rate of pensions in Germany:

§ State social insurance system

First of all, it should be noted that in Germany there is a well-developed system of state social insurance. It guarantees the protection of citizens in case of illness, unemployment as well as in old age. State pension insurance is part of the German social insurance system. The institution responsible for pension insurance throughout Germany is called "Deutsche Rentenversicherung". It deals with the calculation and payment of pensions (pension in German: Rente). With the beginning of employment in Germany, a person is automatically insured in the state pension insurance system.

All the insured in the pension insurance system receive an individual insurance number "Versicherungsnummer" and an account in this system. When contacting Deutsche Rentenversicherung, you have to always have your insurance number on you. This number shall also be communicated to your employer along with the documents required when applying for a job in Germany. Registering in the state pension insurance system and the receipt of this insurance number for a person who does not yet have it is carried out either by the employer, or by the labour exchange or the health insurance fund.

Deutsche Rentenversicherung annually sends an information letter to each insured person over the age of 27, with the data as to what amount of pension s/he can expect at retirement.

On dedicated pages of our site you can find information about social assistance and basic benefits in Germany, as well as benefits for the unemployed and child benefits.

§ Retirement age of men and women in Germany in 2021, 2020

From what age a person in Germany can go on an old-age pension depends on his/ her year of birth. People born before 1947 reach retirement age at 65, then the retirement year gradually rises and all those born from 1964 and on reach retirement age only at 67. Thus, both men and women reach the standard retirement age in Germany at 65-67, depending on the year of birth. See the table below for more details.

Table 1: Retirement age in Germany

Year of birth Retirement age
before 1947 65 years of age
1947-1958 One more month is added to 65 years of age for 1 year gone by *
1958 66 years of age
1959-1963 Two more months are added to 66 years of age for 1 year gone by **
from 1964 on 67 years of age

* For example, if you were born in 1950, your standard retirement age is 65 years and 4 months old (since 4 years passed from 1947 to 1950, 1 month is added for each year)
** For example, if you were born in 1960, your standard retirement age is 66 years and 4 months old (since 2 years passed from 1959 to 1960, 2 months are added for each year)

Retirement age may occur earlier, due to special circumstances stipulated by law:

§ Pension insurance contributions in Germany

Contributions to the pension insurance system depend on the amount of wages/salary, the more a person earns, the more s/he pays. The transfer of these insurance premiums is the responsibility of the employer. The pension insurance contribution is deducted from the employee’s salary and from the employer's funds, i.e. 50% of the contribution is paid by the employee, and 50% - by the employer. The total amount of the pension contribution is calculated as follows: 18.60% of the employee’s gross salary (i.e., the wages from which taxes and charges have not yet been withheld). However, there is a limit, beyond which a person no longer pays insurance contributions: in case the salary exceeds 6900 euros, a person is charged with pension insurance fees for only 6900 euros, the remaining amount is free from the fee payment.

In August 2018, in Germany, it was decided that until 2025, pension contributions would not exceed 20% of the employees salaries.

If a person works on a basis (minijob), earning less than 450 euros per month, then the contribution to pension insurance is also 18.60% of the salary, at that 15% thereof is paid by the employer and only 3.6% - by the employee.

Table 2: Deductions from salaries to the German social security system in 2020

Type of insurance Total % of gross salary Employee’s share Employer’s share
Pension insurance 18.60 % 9.30 % 9.30 %
Health insurance 14.60 % 7.30 % 7.30 %
Unemployment insurance 2.40 % 1.20 % 1.20 %
Nursing insurance 3.05% 1.525% 1.525%
TOTAL: 38.650 % 19.325 % 19.325 %

Diagram 1 below shows the change in the pension insurance rate deducted from an employee's salary in Germany.

Diagram 1. Change in the pension insurance rate deducted from the gross salary in Germany by year

As can be seen from this diagram, the rate of charge to the pension insurance fund in Germany deducted from wages has been constantly increasing in recent decades, although in 2015 the level of pension contribution became lower and is now at the level of 1990. The rates of contributions for other types of social insurance in Germany are also gradually increasing year-on-year.

§ Length of service and getting a pension

The right to receive a pension under pension insurance can be exercised only if the insured has participated in pension insurance for a minimum number of years. This minimum period of participation in pension insurance in Germany is 5 years (Mindestversicherungszeit, Wartezeit). Only then can the person be eligible for a pension.

If the insured expects to receive a pension due to a long or particularly long period of participation in pension insurance, which gives them the opportunity to retire at an earlier age, these periods of participation in pension insurance should reach 35 and 45 years, respectively.

Participation in pension insurance embraces not only the time when a person has paid the statutory insurance contributions while working in a company, but also the time, during which the person has received unemployment benefits (ALG-I), taken care of a child for the first three years of his/her life (Kindererziehungszeiten) or of a sick family member. During the care of the child, despite the fact that the person does not pay insurance contributions, their pension will be calculated in the amount that is charged on average to each insured.

In general, it should be said that the rate of a pension in Germany depends on the amount of contributions and the duration of their payment to the state pension insurance system.

§ How to get a pension in Germany: applying for a pension

Obtaining any type of pension in Germany is possible only after applying for a pension (Rentenantrag). This application can be written without a specific form, as well as to speed up its consideration, with the use of special forms provided. These forms are available on the Deutsche Rentenversicherung page: Antrag auf Versichertenrente

The application for a pension has to be accompanied by documents that have not been taken into account by pension insurance bodies, for example, those certifying the person‘s education, time of receiving the unemployment benefits, children birth certificates and others.

In addition, when applying, you will be required to provide the following information:

It is advised to apply for a pension three months before retirement age. Delay in applying for a pension may result in a later start of the pension receiving.

§ Types of pensions in Germany

Depending on the life situation, age, gender and other conditions, a person can be paid different types of pensions and starting from different age. The list below shows all the main types of pensions in Germany:

§ Disability pensions, sickness benefit pensions

As mentioned above on the page, in the event of disability (full or partial) due to illness or accident, a person can expect to receive a pension before reaching the retirement age (Erwerbsminderungsrenten ). A person can start receiving this pension, even if s/he has not paid pension insurance contributions for the minimum period set, which at the moment amounts to 5 years. If an accident has occurred at work, already at the very beginning of labour activity (when paying only one contribution to the pension insurance fund), a person can expect to receive a disability pension. Occupational disease limiting the ability to work is also taken into account. If disability occurs due to domestic injury or illness, only those who have paid pension insurance contributions for at least 1 year (12 contributions) can receive a pension.

Before a decision is made on the payment of a disability pension, as a rule, it has to be ascertained whether it is possible to resume the labour activity via medical or professional rehabilitation. Partial disability pension is paid if a person can work less than 6 hours a day, not only in their degree field, but in any job. This is based on medical examinations and expert opinion.

For people with disabilities with a degree of disablement (Grad der Behinderung, GdB) of 50% or more, Germany provides an opportunity to retire at an earlier age. For this, it is also necessary to meet certain conditions and requirements. For more information, see the brochure, the link can be found at the bottom of the page.

§ How many pensioners are there in Germany?

The number of pensioners in Germany is not much more than 25 million people. Detailed information on the distribution by gender and land/federated state is presented in the table below.

Table 3: Number of pensioners in Germany as of 1 July 2019

German lands Number of retired men Number of retired women Total number of pensioners
Western Germany (the FRG) 7'633'245 12'269'439 15'266'490
Eastern Germany (the GDR) 1'943'889 3'225'790 3'887'778
TOTAL 9'577'134 15'495'229 25'072'363

§ Pension and divorce

When a marriage is dissolved in Germany, the principle of equalizing pension savings shall apply (Versorgungsausgleich), in accordance with which both spouses' pensions shall be divided equally between husband and wife. Thus, if one of the spouses has earned a larger pension than the other, for example, if a woman has been engaged in raising children and household, then upon dissolution of the marriage, the monthly paid pensions will be divided equally. The distribution of pensions in this way is thus made by court upon divorce without any application.

§ Links to the laws and official websites on the topic: pension in Germany

Basic information about pensions in Germany is available on the official website of the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Federal Pension Insurance and the website of the Ministry of Labour, as well as in the legislative documents governing the provision of pensions.

Detailed information on the rate and calculation of pensions in Germany can be found on a dedicated page of our website.

Footnotes:

* The EUR exchange rate in the tables is taken as of 19 october 2021 and amounts to 1.17 USD or 0.84 GBP at the European Central Bank exchange rate. The EUR, USD and GBR exchange rates in Germany


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