Additional information

Statutory pension scheme

The German statutory pension insurance scheme (Gesetzliche Rentenversicherung, or GRV) is part of the statutory social security system. It mainly serves as provision for old age upon retirement but also protects those insured and their families in case of reduced earning capacity or death, with payments to surviving dependants. It also covers medical and professional rehabilitation to help employees recover or improve their earning capacity. Contributions to the statutory pension insurance scheme are deducted directly from your gross salary. Generally, employers and employees each pay half. Your employer will automatically register you for this scheme via your selected health insurance provider.

Recognition of pension rights

If you have been employed in one or several members states of the EU, EEA, or in Switzerland, you may have acquired pension rights in each of these states. This means that when you return to your home country, or stay in Germany, periods during which you were employed in Germany or in your home country and during which you paid contributions to their statutory pension scheme will be recognised for pension rights. The pension authorities in each EU member state in which you were employed will check the contributions you have paid into their system, how much you paid in other member states, and for how long you have worked in different states.

If you have never worked in the country you currently live in, your host country will forward your pension claim to the country in which you were last employed. Germany has social security agreements with some states outside the EU, the EEA and Switzerland to improve social security protection for people who work or have worked in these countries and are thus eligible for identical or similar benefits. Please check whether Germany has such a social security agreement with your home country and what insurances are included in the agreement. It is very important to obtain as much information as possible on exactly what your entitlements will be from these countries' respective pension schemes.

Please keep in mind the different retirement ages in each country you worked in. It may be the case that if you have acquired pension rights in another country, you will only receive that part of your pension once you have reached the legal retirement age in that country. Until that point, any contributions you paid into the national pension scheme will remain with the pension authorities of the respective country, and will be paid to you according to national legal regulations.

Pension contribution refunds

If you return to your home country and would like the contributions you paid into the German pension scheme to be refunded to you, you must submit an application. However, this application will only be approved under certain conditions. Refunds of contributions are available if there is no obligation to pay compulsory contributions, if there is no entitlement to make voluntary contributions, and if a waiting period of two years (24 calendar months) has elapsed. Please visit the website of the Deutsche Rentenversicherung to find out more about which contributions are eligible for a refund and about national regulations.

Occupational pension schemes

If your employment contract in Germany classifies you as a public servant paid according to the TV-L, you will be included in the Pension Institution of the Federal Republic and the Länder, the Versorgungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder, or VBL for short. The VBL is an occupational pension scheme and the contributions paid by visiting researchers under this state scheme are fixed at a certain percentage.

If you are employed at the university on a short-term academic contract, you can be exempted from the VBL pension scheme. In this case your employer will be required to sign you up for the VBL's voluntary insurance scheme. Only your employer pays contributions into this scheme, at a reduced rate. You can apply for an exemption at the University's Division 2: Finances, Section 2.5 Payroll Accounting (Personalabrechnung), within two months of starting work.

Information of the VBL - Versorungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder for researchers (most of VBL's information is in German, but they also provide an English video pertaining to "Insurances for scientific employees")

(Changed: 19 Dec 2022)  | 
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