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Frequently asked questions

What security does the German pension system offer?

The German pension system offers employees in Germany quite decisive security aspects. In the phase of life in which a person is most productive, he or she contributes a large part of his or her life's work. This means that the foundation for later life is laid during this time as well. The accumulation of wealth, which is not built up in the first 20 years of professional activity, can hardly be made up later. The same applies to the pension entitlements that one accumulates in the course of time.

The benefits from the German pension insurance form the main focus of old-age provision for almost all gainfully employed persons in Germany. Although there are other components of old-age provision, they play a subordinate role for the majority of employees.

The social security and importance of the German pension insurance is therefore very high. All employees rely on pensions and contributions paid in in the past.

Why is the German pension system complicated?

The German pension system is based on three pillars:

  • The first element is the company pension scheme, controlled by the employers.
  • The second pillar is a voluntary private pension scheme.
  • The most important pillar is the mandatory state pension scheme.

We provide detailed information about the statutory pension, the so-called old-age pension, and the reimbursement of pension contributions, the so-called social security payment. We are specialists in this field and have many years of experience.

We know the challenge of German administration. We know which forms are necessary and how to fill them out. We pass on this knowledge directly to our customers. This saves a lot of time and effort for our customers and accelerates the process of pension application or pension reimbursement tremendously.

What does the 5 years - 60 months border mean to me?

If you are citizen of a non-EU country and you have worked in Germany you may be eligible for a refund of your own paid pension contributions. The following prerequisites must be fulfilled:

  • You worked less than 60 month (5 years) in Germany
  • Your last contribution is at least 24 months back
  • You have moved out of the EU

The 60 month limit is valid for the following countries: Albania, Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, India, Israel, Japan, Kosovo, Morocco, Macedonia, Montenegro, Philippines, Serbia, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, and the USA.

If you are citizenship of these countries it is mandatory that you worked less than 60 months. Germany has concluded a social security agreement with these countries.

There is no social security agreement with any other countries. In exceptional cases, there are additional conditions that must be fulfilled even without an agreement. We check these conditions for you in our Pensioncheck. In order to clearly determine the claims, each application must be examined individually.

If there are no additional conditions that are applicable to you, you are entitled to a refund. You are then entitled to your pension contributions, even if you have worked in Germany for more than 60 months.

Am I eligible for a refund even I have reached the retirement age?

If you worked in Germany less than 60 month (5 years) and you are a non EU-citizen you are eligible for a refund of your own paid pension contributions.

The German pension system is complex, so there are some special regulations. For individual cases we recommend to check the claim for a refund. We offer you a free Pensioncheck. We check all special cases very carefully.

How much will I get back from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung?

An employee in Germany has to pay contributions to the German Social Security System. One part of the Social Security System are the pension contributions. In 2019 employee and employer have to pay 18.9% of the monthly salary. Each has to pay 9.3%. If you apply for a refund you will only get back your own paid pension contributions. In the following link you will see a table of pension contributions in Germany over the last 15 years. The table also shows the upper limit of social insurance contributions. That means if you earned more than the upper limit you hadn´t pay more than the upper limit.

How long does it take to get my refund?

You have to wait 2 years after your last contribution to the German Pension System to get a refund. But you don´t need to wait 2 years to apply for the refund. It can take up to 6 months or sometimes longer to get the refund. Because of that we recommend to start the paperwork minimum 6 months before the maintenance period ends. So that you don´t forget your pension contributions we can complete your application when you are leaving Germany. We will send you a reminder 6 months before the 2 year period ends and we finalize all document needed for the social security cash out.

What happens if I come back to Germany for work after the reimbursement of my pension contributions?

You will start the pension contributions from the scratch and there are disadvantages because of your prior refund. 

Which countries are supported getting a refund? Are there some countries which are not supported?

No there are no exceptions. The pension refund can be transferred to any country in the world.

What happens if I am eligible to receive a reimbursement, but I die before the refund is paid out?

The heirs or beneficiaries of the person entitled to reimbursement shall receive reimbursement if the person who made the contributions dies before the expiry of the 5-year vesting period. The application must have been made before the death of the insured person.

Is it better to choose the refund or to receive an old age pension?

It depends – after checking your pension account we see if you are eligible for a refund and how much it will be. We show you the options and we will help you to make the best decision according to your current circumstances. This is especially important because Germany has a lot of social security agreements with different countries. We know all countries that have an agreement and inform you accordingly.

Besides the old age pension there are other state pensions in Germany. All kind of old age pensions have different requirements. See below the differences:


Old age pension: There are two requirements for receiving an old-age pension.

  • The first requirement is that you have reached the relevant age. Since 2012, this age limit has risen gradually from 65 to 67 years. But there are also exceptions i.e. if you are an employee who has had an exceptionally long contribution period of at least 45 years. If you worked more than 45 years and you were born before 1953, you are entitled to a retirement pension at the age of 63.
  • The second requirement is that you have fulfilled the minimum insurance period (called waiting period) of 5 years. Various services are taken into account in the waiting time, like contributions from employment or self-employment. Under certain circumstances, months in which you received unemployment benefit, unemployment benefit II, sickness benefit or transitional allowance may also count. Also contributions from minijobs paid together with your employer and contributions for mini-jobs paid only by your employer are only taken into account on a pro rata basis. In addition to this voluntary contributions paid by you alone, child rearing periods, months of non-working domestic care and months from a pension adjustment in the event of divorce are taken into account.


There are other types of old-age pension. Certain conditions must be met for this to happen.

The other types are:

  • Old-age pension for severely disabled people
  • Old-age pension for miners

What are the deadlines for applying for a pension?

There are different periods depending on the type of pension. Which period applies to you depends on whether you claim a pension from your own insurance or a survivor's pension.

For pensions from your own insurance - i.e. for old-age pensions, reduced earning capacity pensions and educational pensions - an application period of three months generally applies as soon as all conditions for the pension have been fulfilled.

Very important is, that if you apply later, the pension can usually only start from the month in which you apply. That means if you wait with you application you lose your own money.

In the case of survivors' pensions - i.e. widows', widowers' and orphans' pensions - the application period is a full year (12 months) from the date of death. This period also applies if a pension has already lapsed once and is applied for again later. If the survivor's pension application is filed later, the pension only begins from the month of application and cannot be paid retroactively.

Why do I need to apply for my old age pension or refund on my own?

The German Pension Insurance does not remind the insured persons that they can apply for their old-age pension. Likewise, the DRV does not inform whether a pension refund is possible. Only on request can you find out which documents are required (valid ID, proof of insurance plus relevant certificates, such as death certificate in the case of survivor’s pension) and which forms must be completed. Especially in the case of an old-age pension, a late application leads to a late payment of the pension. The insured person loses the money to which he is entitled. It is therefore important to apply for a pension in good time. We as Fundsback help that no money is lost. We help you to apply for your pension quickly and on time.

Where can I find my German pension or social security number?

You get a social security card when you register as an employee for the first time. The social security number is identical to the pension insurance number. This number has nothing to do with other identification numbers. It is neither identical with the health card number nor with the tax identification number. If you are looking for your social security number, you will find it on your social security card, salary statement or income tax certificate. The number looks like a randomly mixed conglomerate, but it is not. It is made up of 8 numbers, the first letter of the insured person's surname and finally 3 other numbers.

All numbers have a meaning.

  • The first two numbers show the regional responsibility of the Deutsche Rentenversicherung.
  • The following 6 numbers are the date of birth of the insured person.
  • The only letter is the first letter of the birth name. If this is an Ö then the pension insurance number contains the 2 letters OE.
  • The last two numbers indicate the sex. 00 to 49 stands for male. 50 to 99 stands for female.

The last number is a check digit and is specified by according to the specifications of the German pension insurance.