You would think this is a simple question, but things have been changing when it comes to work, pensions and retirement age in Germany. It is not the same answer for everyone! In case you don’t know what to do with all the free time you’ll have, an excellent plan for retirement: improve your German!
Germany’s population is one of the oldest in the world
If you look at which countries have the largest percentages of their population 65 years and older, Germany wins third place, right behind Japan and Italy. That statistic certainly surprised me – why aren’t there any fancy diet books about beer, sauerkraut, and Wurst? Maybe it’s all the hiking. Regardless, having a large older population can make pension calculations a bit tricky, as generally it is the working population paying in to support those collecting old-age pensions.
At what age can I stop working in Germany?
It’s a bit complicated. If you were born before 1947, you can begin to collect old-age pension on your 66th birthday. If you were born in 1947 through until 1958, you can retire at age 65 years plus one month. For each year, you add a month. If you were born in 1948, it’s 65 years old plus two months, and so on. For those of us born after 1967, the age of retirement in Germany begins at 67 years old. To qualify for these old-age pensions, you must have worked for at least five years in Germany.
Child-rearing counts towards your pension and retirement
Time that also counts as working, in Germany, is the years you spend bringing up children until the age of 10, as well as your time being pregnant. Time in post-secondary education and recognized sick leave also count towards your five years. If you lived in East Germany and experienced ‘periods of political persecution’, that also counts towards your working time, at least where a pension is concerned.
Are you an EU national? Or Canadian?
There are many agreements in place that allow you to transfer pension funds, or even claim back funds you had deducted in one country towards a pension scheme if you no longer live there. These are obviously a bit complicated, so check with the relevant government departments. If you leave Germany after paying 24 months or less into a pensions scheme, you may be entitled to get it back.
Can I work after the age of 67?
Oh, definitely! There are forms you need to fill in to officially delay the start of your pension, and you will reap the benefits of continuing to contribute. However, you can also draw on your pension and work part-time, without effecting your payments. There are specific rules, but essentially you can earn up to €450 a month, with a month or two going up to twice this amount, and still safely collect your pension. It is always worth checking these regulations before making any plans, of course!
Company retirement plans in Germany
If you work for a company, they will probably also offer a retirement saving plan, which is meant to supplement the government pension. These are not compulsory, but they are encouraged by the government through tax breaks and grants, so it’s worth looking into, if your employer offers it. At the moment, many of these plans start paying out at 65 years of age, but will probably shift to 67, like the government pensions.
WHo do I talk to about this in German?
The organization in charge of the public pensions is the Deutsche Rentenversicherung, though you can access their website in English if you need help. The European Union also has a good overview in English of the German pension system.
Erin McGann is a Canadian freelance writer focusing on travel, living abroad, parenting, history, and culture. After nearly a decade living in the UK, Erin settled in Heidelberg, Germany with her husband and son. Dragging her family to every castle and open-air museum is a favourite activity, along with sewing, archery, and historical reenactment. You can check out her travel blog, and follow her obsession with half-timbered houses on her Instagram account.