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If you have an employment contract in Germany, you must pay into the statutory pension insurance scheme. It protects those insured and their families if their earning capacity is at risk or reduced and if it ends due to old age or death. It offers medical rehabilitation measures, vocational rehabilitation, pensions due to full or partial reduction in earning capacity, old-age pensions and survivors' pensions.
The contribution to the statutory pension insurance is deducted directly from your gross salary. Generally, half of the pension insurance contributions is paid by the employer and the other half by the employee. The payments are indicated in your pay slip. An explanation of the pay slip in English can be found in our flyer "Understanding your Payslip".
Under certain conditions, your payments either entitle you to a later pension or you can have your contributions refunded.
Recognition of pension rights
EU member states, EEA states, Switzerland or countries with a social security agreement with Germany must take pension periods completed in Germany into account when examining your eligibility requirements. If you have worked in various countries during your professional life and have made contributions to the respective social insurance schemes, you should enquire about your entitlements in good time with the insurance institutions of the individual countries.
Reimbursement of pension contributions
If you return to a country that has no social security agreement with Germany, you are entitled to a refund of the pension contributions you paid in Germany. After a waiting period of two years, you can apply to the German Pension Insurance Fund for a refund of your contributions. Under certain circumstances, you may also be able to pay voluntary contributions to the German Pension Insurance Fund after your research stay in Germany, e.g. in order to meet possible waiting periods and thus receive pension entitlements.
Ask for advice as to whether, in your case, crediting the pension periods or reimbursement of pension contributions is possible and advisable. Helpful information and support is available at:
If your contract of employment qualifies you as a public sector employee (e.g. scientific employee of the HHU/UKD), you are also compulsorily insured with the Versorgungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder (VBL). Your employer will therefore register you with the VBL for VBL-Klassik insurance. The benefits provided by the VBL are old-age pension, pension in the event of reduced earning capacity and survivor's pension for spouses, registered partners and orphans or half-orphans. Contributions to VBL-Klassik insurance are paid partly by the employer and partly by the employee.
Scientists with temporary work contracts (less than 5 years) have the possibility to be exempted from the obligation to contribute to the compulsory insurance with VBL-Klassik. The employer cannot be excempted from paying contributions to the VBL and must register the employee with the VBL's voluntary insurance scheme. Employees exempted from contributing to VBL-Klassik fall under the VBL-Extra insurance for which only the employer pays a contribution, albeit at a lower rate. This means that pension entitlements arise even without paying your own contribution. Applications for exemption from the VBL-Klassik insurance at the personnel department need to and can only be filed within two months after start date of the employment contract .
The VBL will advise you on your pension entitlements under the company pension scheme and, if you have been insured under the compulsory insurance scheme for less than 60 months, on the possibility of having your contributions refunded.