When working in Germany there is a high chance that a part of your salary is deducted in order to pay for your pension contributions. While this is a great system for a majority of individuals within Germany, there are those who move out of the country and choose to retire elsewhere.
Individuals who choose to do this may be wondering how they can get a hold of the pension that they worked hard to earn. The answer is not so cut and dry and varies depending on the circumstances from person to person.
That is why we have compiled this helpful guide in an attempt to make claiming your pension refund and maximizing it so that you get the most out of your hard work. Read on to learn more.
You Have a Right to Claim Your Pension Contributions
Something that many people are not aware of is their right to claim their pension contributions. Because the statutory pension insurance benefit is a mandatory thing for individuals working within Germany, self-employed individuals oftentimes included, nearly everyone has a pension contribution.
This contribution comes in the form of 9.35% of their gross monthly salary. This amount is then matched by your employer and the final sum is transferred directly into your personal pension account.
Right now, in 2021, the ceiling for monthly contribution is sitting at just around €6,900 throughout Germany (€6,700 in East Germany, €7,100 in West Germany).
Should you choose to get your pension refund, then you will be claiming back the entirety of all of the contributions that you have previously made throughout your time working, save for the contributions that your employer made.
Eligibility for Claiming a Pension Refund
Claiming your pension refund has a few criteria that must be met. For starters, you must have only paid your pension contributions for less than 5 years. If you have paid your contributions for more than 5 years then you will sadly be unable to claim a refund.
You must have also made your final compulsory contribution at least 2 years ago. Individuals who have not yet reached retirement age will also need to wait a total of two years after leaving Germany before they will be able to apply for a pension refund.
It is important to note that non-EU citizens may also be entitled to attaining a refund of their German pension, so long as they are not from Israel, Macedonia, or Serbia.
US nationals who are living within the EU will be unable to claim a German pension refund as long as they are staying in the European Union. They will first be required to return to the United States before being eligible to claim their refund.
The following individuals will also not be eligible to claim a German pension refund and will need to wait until they are 67 years old (when they will receive their pension):
- European Union citizens
- Those living in the EU, the European Economic Area, or Switzerland
- Citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, or Serbia
Contributions made before 30 June 1990 will also not be eligible for a refund.
How to Claim Your German Pension Refund
Applying for your German pension refund is generally quite easy. You have the choice of applying directly via the German authorities or choosing to apply using the quality services at FundsBack.
All you need to do to claim your German pension refund is fill out various forms, supply a copy of your passport, and then send these two documents together to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung.
It will take approximately six months for the Deutsche Rentenversicherung to review your case. Once they have finished reviewing your case, they will send you a Bescheid letter containing both the period of contribution as well as the amount that is to be refunded.
Bear in mind that that the Deutsche Rentenversicherung will only reply to your letter in formal German, so be prepared to do some translating if you do not understand the language.
Doing It Yourself
When applying on your own you will not need to pay any fees. All you need to do is fill out some forms and then send them to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung. This takes patience, though it is a fairly simple process. While there are bilingual application forms, understanding German makes this process much easier.
The requirements when applying on your own are as follows:
- Get your Steueridentifikationsnummer (tax ID)
- Fill out the forms provided at the Deutsche Rentenversicherung website, here
- Fill out the needed payment form (bear in mind that banks in a country other than Germany will take 2 months longer to process)
- Get a copy of your passport and Meldebescheinigung zur Sozialversicherung
If applying for someone else:
- Include a power of attorney letter
After filling out all of the required forms simply send them to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung and wait for them to review your case.
Getting Help From Someone Else
There are many benefits posed when getting assistance from professionals. Not only can experts help to get you your German pension refund faster but they will also help you to maximize your refund.
We will cover one of the premier companies for assisting you with your German pension refund later in this article.
How Much Can You Expect Your Pension Refund to be?
You can generally expect your pension refund to be around 9.35% of your Brutto income, or the total amount that you earn. That means that this all depends on how much your income was prior to you leaving the country.
As stated previously, the Deutsche Rentenversicherung will provide you with the exact amount that you are entitled once you mail them. It is also worth mentioning that FundsBack can check the amount your pension refund will be free of charge and in a timely manner.
There are many who are unaware of just how large a pension refund can get. For example, some individuals are entitled to refunds that can be larger than €7,000. Definitely don’t miss out on getting your German pension refund.
Remember Your Rights
If you meet the criteria for receiving a German pension refund then don’t forget about your right to a return. As long as you are eligible to attain your pension refund you should take all of the chances possible to get it.
Because you must wait for 2 years after leaving Germany to become eligible to claim your pension refund, many individuals forget about it entirely. As an ex-pat, you can get your pension refund and reap the benefits that it provides.
It is the money that you have worked hard for, and there are many methods available to you for claiming it. Whether you choose to take things into your own hands and make the claim yourself or enlist the help of professionals, never forget the right you have to claim your pension refund.
Don’t Get Discouraged, Get Help from Professionals
As mentioned previously, getting assistance from experts who specialize in helping ex-pats get their German pension refund is one of the fastest and simplest ways to get a hold of your money.
Not only will companies that are specifically made to help ex-pats get their German pension refunds fast, but they also provide you with many other benefits that applying yourself just does not warrant.
Here are some of the reasons why seeking help in attaining your German pension refund is a good idea:
Speaking German is not a requirement
One of the hardest things about applying for your pension refund is the fact that some documents are in German, making it difficult to understand for non-German speakers. This is made even harder due to the fact that the letter you will receive from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung is written entirely in formal German.
If they request more documents or information you will have trouble, but getting the help of native-German speakers who understand English as well is a great way to eliminate stress.
Your case gets processed faster (and safer)
The Deutsche Rentenversicherung does not use registered mail and only communicates via post. This makes things slow and also means that if a letter gets lost you may be left wondering what is going on with your case.
Having a professional company by your side will eliminate these worries and expedite the process of getting your case taken care of.
Your money gets to you quickly
As mentioned earlier, using a bank account outside of Germany means that your refund will be on hold for an extra 2 months. Getting the help of a company such as FundsBack means that you get your money as soon as it is paid out.
They will be able to manage the transfer from start to finish, to your bank account worldwide. Other payment options are also available when choosing to get assistance.
Maximize Your German Pension Refund
Choosing to get assistance with your German pension refund is definitely a great choice. You have less to worry about and can get a hold of your money much sooner than if you do things yourself.
That is why FundsBack is such a great partner to choose when looking to maximize your German pension refund. FundsBack will work with you every step of the way to get you the money that you deserve, and go above and beyond to serve you to the best of their ability.
If you don’t speak German and are looking for a company that can help you get your pension refund then FundsBack is a wonderful choice. They only charge 10% of your refund as their fee and speak fluent English and German, ensuring that everything goes smoothly.
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