Eligibility, Application and Calculation

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Eligibility Check

In the respective member states and/or agreement countries, different eligibility requirements apply. Each insurance agency checks individually whether there is a pension entitlement according to its national legal provisions and, if so, pays its pension. It is therefore possible that you may receive a pension from several countries, depending on where you have accrued periods of insurance and whether the eligibility requirements are fulfilled in each case. There is no “European pension” or “overall pension” that one member state and/or agreement country pays on behalf of the others.

In addition to other requirements such as reaching a certain age, a minimum insurance period known as the qualifying period must be fulfilled to be eligible for a German pension.

This period can differ considerably, depending on the different German pension requirements. For example: in the case of the old age pension for particularly long-term insured persons, it is 45 years, whereas for the regular old-age pension it is only 5 years. According to European law, the German periods of insurance and the qualifying periods in the other member states are added together in the calculation of these qualifying periods. The law with the agreement countries includes similar provisions.

Furthermore the different qualifying periods for the special payments for miners can be fulfilled by adding together periods spent mining in other member states or in some agreement countries.

In addition to the qualifying periods for various German pensions, some other requirements need to be fulfilled in order to be eligible; for example, compulsory contributions to pension insurance must have been paid owing to a job or activity that is subject to compulsory insurance during certain periods before commencement of pension payment. Here too, respective periods in a member state or an agreement country can be taken into account in the calculation.

The other member states or agreement countries also have to take into account the German periods when checking their eligibility requirements.

Please note that periods of insurance can only be added up within the member states and separately between the Federal Republic of Germany and its agreement countries, but not also among one another. For example, if you have worked in the Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and Canada, the German periods of insurance can be added up with the British and Irish ones according to European law or the German periods can be added to the Canadian periods of insurance according to the German-Canadian convention. It is not possible to add together all the periods accrued (German, British, Irish and Canadian), to fulfil the qualifying period of 45 years, for example.

Exceptions are possible only in the case of new agreements, for example, the agreement with Brazil and Uruguay. These new agreements also enable periods of insurance in several member states and the respective agreement country to be added together.

The periods of insurance from a country with which the Federal Republic of Germany has not signed a social security agreement cannot be added to the German periods of insurance to fulfil the eligibility requirements.

In these cases, the requirements for a pension, such as reaching the age limit or being an invalid, are determined entirely by the respective national law. For example, it can happen that you have a pension entitlement from one country from your pension insurance, whereas the requirements for a pension in another country are only fulfilled at a later date because there is a higher age limit there, for example. In your own interests, you should always find out from the respective country, the earliest point at which you can receive a pension, and the latest point at which you are able to make a pension application. You can receive advice and help in our information and advice centres or from the foreign insurance agency.

Your Application

If you live in another member state or a country which has an agreement with Germany (agreement country), you can file an application for a German pension through the insurance agency of your respective country; a time limit may apply. If you live in Germany, you can make your application for a pension from another member state or agreement country with Deutsche Rentenversicherung; a time limit may apply. This also applies to legal challenges against decisions of foreign insurance agencies.

If you make a pension application in one country, and have accrued periods of insurance in several member states or agreement countries, this application simultaneously counts as an application for a respective pension in the other country. In other words: you only have to make one application. The insurance agency, with whom you file the application, informs the other foreign insurance agency/agencies and initiates the pension procedure.

Therefore you should always make sure you report all of your periods of insurance in all member states or agreement countries when you make your application.

If you have accrued periods of insurance in a country, with which the Federal Republic of Germany does not have a social security agreement, then you need to contact the relevant foreign insurance agency yourself.

If you live in Germany, you will find further information about the procedure in the chapter “Pension” under “Making an Application”. You can also download and print out the German application forms.

Making an Application

If you live in a member state or agreement country, we recommend that you make your pension application via the insurance agency in your country of residence.

Please note that very different age limits apply in the various countries. In one particular country, for example, an old-age pension can begin at the age of 60; in other countries, however, only at the age of 67. Always find out about your pension entitlements from the relevant foreign countries in advance.

Pension Calculation

To calculate your pension, the principle applies that every member state or agreement country pays only the pension from its own insurance periods and according to its own legal provisions.

Adding together the periods of insurance only takes place to fulfil the minimum insurance periods and the specific legal insurance requirements. Payment of an entire pension represented by only one country, taking into account the periods of insurance of the other countries, does not take place.

Very small pensions form an exception to this rule. In these cases, European law and some agreements allow that periods of insurance of other countries to be taken over if this means that a particular minimum number of insurance months (for example, less than one year), is not attained.

If you were employed in several member states or agreement countries, you will receive an individual pension from each country in which you have accrued periods of insurance in so far as the respective eligibility requirements are fulfilled, with the “smallest pension” rule being an exception.

Furthermore, European law contains specific rules on pension calculation according to which, periods of insurance of other member states could also influence the German pension calculation. In this case, the foreign periods of insurance can have a positive effect on your pension.

You can find out more on pension calculation according to European law in the information flyer “Living and Working in Europe”.

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