Social Security

At a glance

In Germany, social security is mandatory for all employees. On the following page, you can find out what is included and how it works .

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 In Germany, social security (Sozialversicherung) is mandatory for all employees independent of their nationality and includes five components:

  • Health Insurance (Krankenversicherung)
  • Long-term Care/ Nursing Care Insurance (Pflegeversicherung)
  • Pension Scheme (Rentenversicherung)
  • Unemployment Insurance (Arbeitslosenversicherung)
  • Accident Insurance (Unfallversicherung)

As an employee on a contract, about 40% of your gross salary is automatically deducted for social security payments. You can find a quick overview of the individual components below.

Living and Working in Europe is a brochure published by the federal pension office (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) , which provides an overview of the social security system for foreigners. The webpages of Euraxess, the EU's network of professionals providing information and assistance to mobile researchers, describe the German social security system. Official information by the German government can be found in the Social Security at a Glance PDF file.

You will automatically be registered with social security at the beginning of your contract and receive a letter with your personal social security number (Sozialversicherungsnummer). Store it carefully since you might need it for later inquires.

If you are on a scholarship, you are exempt from social security, which means you don't have to pay but you are also ineligible to use the services. You are, however, required to obtain health insurance yourself. Please check the health insurance section for details. Under some circumstances, scholarship holders may be covered by accident insurance. Check with your personal support contact at your institution.

Health Insurance

In general, health care in Germany is excellent and much of it is covered by statutory health insurance. Approximately 8% of your salary will be deducted for statutory health insurance. Since there are many different options and regulations affecting health insurance, we have a separate section on health insurance.

Long-term Care Insurance

In Germany, long-term care or nursing care insurance is separate from health insurance and the pension scheme. Every employee has to pay about 2.5% of their salary for this insurance. Anyone over 23 years of age without children is charged an additional 0.25% to compensate for the fact they do not have children who would otherwise have to pay for part of their parents' nursing care expenses.

Long-term care insurance is usually administered by your health insurance company.

Pension Scheme

More than 18% of your salary will automatically be paid into the German statutory pension scheme. After 5 years of payments, you are eligible for a pension if you become unable to work or become old enough to qualify for an old-age pension. Generally, the size of the pension you receive is dependent on the number of years and amount of money you have paid in.

If you leave Germany

If you leave Germany, you may be eligible to transfer your contributions or entitlements within Europe, or you may be eligible for a refund of your payments. However, several restrictions apply, so we recommend contacting the Deutsche Rentenversicherung for advice before you leave Germany. Another source of information is Find your Pension, a project which provides information and advice about pension systems to mobile scientists employed in Europe.

Additional pension schemes

Some employers provide additional pension schemes. A common scheme for state and federal employees is the Federal and State Government Employees Retirement Fund (Versorgungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder, VBL for short). Further information can be found in the flyer "Information for researchers and scientists" (PDF).

Unemployment Insurance Approximately 3% of your salary will pay for unemployment insurance. If you become unemployed through no fault of your own and have paid in for 12 months within the past 2 years you may be eligible for benefits. You need to register with your local unemployment agency (Agentur für Arbeit) 3 months before your contract expires.
Accident Insurance

You will not see any deductions from your salary for accident insurance, since it is completely paid for by your employer.

If you are injured on the way to or from work or while carrying out your job, you are eligible for special benefits including medical treatment, rehabilitation and possibly financial benefits. The service is coordinated by the German statutory accident insurance organization (Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung, DGUV).

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