Pension refunds on leaving Germany

US and various other non-EU citizens can claim back their German state pension contributions if they contribute in Germany for less than 5 years (60 monthly contributions). The claim can only be made 2 years after leaving Europe (EU/EEA/CH). Note that only the employee contributions are refunded, not the employer's. So you lose half of it. An alternative to claiming back is to simply wait until you are 67 and then let the German state pay you a pension. Depending on your citizenship, they will do this no matter what country you are living in. The money might not be worth very much by that time though.

Only months in which you made a contribution (or a contribution was made on your behalf) count towards the 5 years. For example, if you arrived here on holiday or perhaps as a student, then later on you started working, the 5 years only count from when you eventually started working. Even if in the beginning you were a student doing paid work-experience (i.e., a Praktikum), providing the Praktikum was compulsory for your study, you should not have paid into the German pension scheme, and hence this time does not count towards the 5 year limit. They count by month towards the 5 year limit and any months on unemployment benefits also count because the Arbeitsamt pays in for you. Only way around this is to stop your unemployement benefits.

To make the refund claim you should get the forms from bfa.de, complete them while in Germany, and keep them for two years. The form you need to search for is called a "V900" form. There are two more supporting forms called "R851" and "A3490". These two forms are country specific also, so check from officials beforehand.

Note: There are similar/equivalent forms for claiming from outside of Germany in German/English "V0901" and in German/French "V0902". You can find the forms by searching (enter the form name into the search box where it says "Ihr Suchbegriff" and click "Los".)

You may only claim 24mnths after you have ceased your German residency. After 2 years go to your German embassy in whatever country you moved to, complete a form "A3490" so they confirm you've been out for 2 years. Then fill-up other two forms mentioned above (V900/V901/V902; and R0851) and send them to pension office. Then wait for your refund. This process costs nothing. The returned funds usually take 4 to 6 weeks to process (in the US). They should transfer the funds to a foreign country, or you can keep your German bank account open and have it transferred there.

Controversy over whether British and other EU citizen can claim:

There is controversy about whether a British person, or indeed any EU citizen, can get this refund of their state pension contributions on leaving Germany.

Here says that you can claim back: Claiming back German state pension contributions as an EU national

But here states that you can't: No claiming back for British citizens

Which story is correct? Do we have a definitive source? Or other experiences?

Requirements To Claim:

According to VO 1408/71 Art. 10 Abs. 2 it is not possible to file a claim while resident in Europe.

In order to be eligible for a contribution refund, three conditions must be fulfilled. One of these criteria is that the claimant is not eligible to make voluntary contributions. Since any EU/EEA/CH citizen who has made more than one contribution into the German pension fund is eligible to make voluntary contributions, EU/EEA/CH citizens are no longer eligible to have their contributions refunded. The only exception is if at the age of retirement an EU/EEA/CH citizen is not eligible to receive a German pension because they have contributed less than 60 months within the EU/EEA/CH.

Non-EU citizens should also be aware that that working in other EU countries can count towards the 5 year period. For example, if you work in Germany for 5 years then work in the UK for 2 years afterwards (or before), you may not be able to get your contributions paid out. The rules are different depending on which non-EU country you are from, and which EU countries you have worked in. Best is to plan early, and contact the Pension Office direct and explain your situation.

The Munich pension office overlooks the Viktualienmarkt. You can go in there, provide your German social security info and they can tell you exactly how much you'd get back and the rules. Just for kicks, ask them also how much you'd get from the pension system if you were 65 today!

Munich pension office contact details:

See also:

Finance
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