Entitlement, Claim and Calculation

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Eligibility check

Different eligibility criteria must be met in the respective Member or Contracting States. Each insurance institution examines separately if the required preconditions for a pension entitlement under its national legislation are met and if so, it will be responsible for paying the pension. It is possible that you may be entitled to receive a pension from more than one state where insurance periods have been completed. There is no such thing as a “universal pension” or a “European pension”.

An entitlement to a German pension is conditional on various factors, including the attainment of a particular age and the completion of a minimum insurance period (qualifying or “waiting” period).

Different qualifying periods apply for the various pension entitlements. It is 35 years for persons with a long-term insurance record in the German old-age pension system, whereas for the normal old-age pension it is only 5 years. Under the European law the German insurance periods and insurance periods completed in other Member States will be totalised to fulfil these qualifying periods. The law governed by Social Security Agreements contains similar regulations.

Furthermore, the various qualifying periods for the special benefits of miners can be fulfilled by the totalisation of the periods spent working underground in other Member States or in some Contracting States.

Apart from the qualifying period to be completed for various types of German pensions, special conditions have to be fulfilled whereby, prior to the start of the pension, compulsory contributions to pension insurance must have been paid within a certain period by reason of the particular employment or self-employment activity. Corresponding time spent in a Member or a Contracting State can be taken into consideration for fulfilling this condition.

The other Member States or Contracting States likewise have to take German insurance periods into consideration when assessing if their particular conditions for entitlement are satisfied.

Please note that insurance periods are only totalised between the Member States or between the Federal Republic of Germany and its Contracting States and not among the states. If, for example, you have worked in the Federal Republic of Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada, the German insurance periods in accordance with European law can be totalised with the British and Irish insurance periods, or the German insurance periods may be totalised with the Canadian periods according to the German-Canadian Agreement. It is not possible to totalise all the insurance periods completed (German, Irish and Canadian), e.g. to acquire the 35 years’ qualifying period.

Exceptions have been stipulated in new agreements, such as the agreement with Brazil. These new agreements also make it possible to totalise insurance periods acquired in several Member States and the respective Contracting State.

Insurance periods completed in a state which does not have a agreement on social security with the Federal Republic of Germany cannot be totalised with German insurance periods to fulfil the conditions for entitlement.

Furthermore, the conditions for the award of a pension, such as the attainment of the pension age or a person’s invalidity, are also based solely on the respective national law. It may then be the case that a pension entitlement is payable from the pension insurance in one state, while the same entitlement is only later established in another state, for example on account of a higher pension age. Therefore, you should find out well in advance about the earliest date you are eligible to receive a pension in the respective state, and when, at the latest, you have to submit a pension claim. Please contact our information and advice centres or the foreign insurance institution for help and advice.

The Claim

If you are resident in another Member State or Contracting State, you can submit your German pension claim to the insurance institution of that other state and still be sure the claim is made within the prescribed periods. If you are resident in Germany, you can submit your claim for a pension in another Member State or Contracting State to Deutsche Rentenversicherung and still be sure the claim is made within the prescribed periods. This also applies if you wish to lodge appeals against the decisions of foreign insurance institutions.

If you have completed insurance periods in more than one Member State or Contracting State, a pension claim made in one state is simultaneously deemed to be a claim for a corresponding pension in the other state. So you only have to submit one claim. The insurance institution to which you submitted your claim will notify the other foreign insurance institutions and will initiate the proceedings on your behalf.

When you apply for a pension please always state all your insurance periods in all Member States or Contracting States.

If you live in Germany, more information on the procedure is provided in the section “Pension”, subsection “Submission of Claim”. You can also download and print out the claim forms from here.

If you are resident in a Member State or a Contracting State, you are advised to submit your pension claim to the insurance institution of your state of residence.

Please note that different pension ages apply in different states. In one state the old age pension may start as early as 60 years of age, for example, while in others it commences at 67. Therefore, find out in advance, from which date you can receive the respective pensions.

Calculation of pension

The calculation of the pension is governed by the principle that each Member State or Contracting State pays any pension based on the insurance periods completed in it and its legal regulations.

Insurance periods will only be totalised regarding the completion of the minimum insurance periods and the compliance of the special legal conditions pertaining to pension insurance. However, you will not receive one single pension from one state based on all your insurance periods in the Member States.

Exceptions to this rule are provided for by European law and some agreements for the avoidance of minimum pensions by taking into consideration the insurance periods completed in the other state, if a certain minimum number of insurance months have not been completed there.

If, therefore, you have been employed in several Member States or Contracting States you will receive a separate pension from each of the states in which you have completed insurance periods, provided the respective eligibility criteria are met, with the exception of the regulations regarding a minimum pension.

European law, moreover, contains special regulations for the calculation of pensions, according to which insurance periods completed in other states may have an impact on the German pension calculation. The periods completed abroad may have a positive effect in this instance.

Further information on the calculation of pensions according to European law can be found in the “Living and Working in Europe” Info Brochure.

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