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German Pension advice from Ausland?

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I have a British friend who lived and worked here in Germany for a number of years who moved back to the UK some while ago. She is coming up for retirement and is trying to get some information on the status of her contributions to the German state pension but has been told by the Munich pension office that they can no longer help with her case as she is not living in Bayern. it seems all the offices now only deal with people from their region, does anyone know a telephone number or email for contact for former German state pension contributors living abroad?

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I would hope this is covered by the EU regulations still. Did she pay in for more 5 years? Can the British pension office, for foreigners, not help with this, as they should know how EU pension contributions are handled.

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I think she paid for almost 10 years and would like to know if she can voluntarily, at this stage,  contribute further  to get it to the 10 years, as I believe that means she actually will get a German pension which should be worth more than if the years were credited to her UK pension. Not sure the UK international pensions office could help with that.

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The qualifying period for a German pension is 5 years, but in order to determine qualification, they aggregate all periods of contributions in EU countries. So I receive a small German pension on the basis of 3 years' contribution in Germany aggregated with my period in the UK.

 

At the time of pension commencement, you apply for your pension in the country where you last contributed (so The Pension Service if that is the UK), and they liaise with all other countries. But each pension is actually paid separately.

 

If you're making enquiries about benefits before retirement, I guess it's best to go to Deutsche Rentenversicherung, who I found to be very helpful, if slow. I think dealing with benefits for people who live outside Germany is somehow centralised - I dealt with Berlin.

 

@GaryC is very knowledgeable on these matters.

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I think Apel is correct about Berlin.  Our pensions are also dealt with by DRV Bund in Berlin, though we were based in Braunschweig while working in Germany.

 

If you send her Rentenversicherungsnummer and questions to meinefrage@drv-bund.de they should forward it to the relevant department/section or whatever.  They are usually quite quick.  A friend of mine who had lost her Versicherungsnummer (indeed all paperwork relating to Germany - long story) found them very helpful and it took only a few months to gather the information they needed and for them to track down her number. She is now starting the application process with DWP...

 

As your friend worked in Germany before the end of the transition period she will almost certainly be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement (I cannot see why she would not be but am erring on the side of caution, ho hum) and the EU rules on social security coordination (i.e. state pensions) continue to apply.  As Apel says, she should therefore get 2 state pensions.  One from DWP in the UK and one from DRV in Germany. 

 

The UK pension is of course taxable in the UK but the German pension is taxable only in Germany and her tax office will be Neubrandenburg Rente-im-Ausland.  They offer an Amtsveranlagungs service meaning she would not need to submit a German tax return.  As she does not qualify for the Grundfreibetrag or other deductions it makes life a lot easier.  

 

Under the EU rules each country is required to undertake 2 calculations of the pension payable.  The first is the pension the person would receive based solely on their qualifying years/payments in that country.  The second is how much the person would received if all EU/UK years had been completed in that country.  This is the "theoretical amount" and is then pro-rated based on the years actually paid in that country.  That country then pays the higher of those two amounts as your pension.

 

For the UK the only time the pro-rata calculation is the higher is when a person does not have the minimum 10 UK years to get a UK pension but has enough years in Germany to get past 10 years in total.  The EU rules then provide a UK pension based on the actual number of UK years, say 3, or 7, or whatever. So 3/35 x weekly max,, or 7/35 x weekly max and so on.

 

If your friend has gaps in her UK National Insurance contribution record for years from (I think) 2006/7 onwards then these can still be filled.  If she is employed the cost is about £825 per year but that investment is repaid in full if you claim your pension for just over 3 years (which we all hope we will!). She should check her NI record via her Personal Tax Account on GOV UK, then speak to DWP Future Pensions to confirm that paying one or more years will benefit her pension.  Then she contacts HMRC to arrange payment.  The deadline for paying years more than 6 years ago is 5 April 2023, so still some time left to get this sorted.  After that you can only pay up to 6 years in arrears. 

 

For Germany it is more complex and the EU calculation can be significantly higher than the German-only one.  For me they were the same but for my wife the EU calculation was 20% higher.  I think it all depends on your employment v unemployment, education etc years.  It would be worth your friend asking for a Kontenklärung and to provide all information about her post 16, pre-working-in-Germany years to them.  Also inform them that she moved back to the UK in whichever year so that Germany will know to contact the UK to get her UK NI record.  She should then get a Rentenauskunft showing her projected German pension.  This should include the German-only calculation (innerstaatliche Berechnung) and the EU-wide one (zwischenstaatliche Berechnung).

 

Paying voluntary contributions in Germany is, in my opinion, not worth it as payback is nearly 20 years!

 

When she comes to claim her German pension it is done through DWP International using a form 901, which they send to you.  

 

Germany has 3 versions of its pension.  The basic pension at 66+ if you have at least 5 years (German plus EU/UK).  The pension for long service at 63 but reduced by 0.3% for each month you take it early if you have 35 years and the pension for exceptionally long service and 64+ not reduced if you have 45 years.  

 

Your friend's circumstances sound similar to mine and I opted for the 35-year version, reduced by 11.4%.  I would need to live at least 8 years to make the 45-year version more cost effective and to about 85 or something to make it worth waiting until I am 66+.  Given that both my parents failed to make the 8 years, gulp, my choice was pretty clear but which one to claim is of course personal choice.

 

When she claims she will not get an innerstaatliche Berechnung if claiming a pension where the UK years help make up the minimum 5, 35 or 45 years as it would be zero. 

 

Hope this helps her move forward with both DWP and DRV.

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