Can I get a German public pension refund: an overview

When does it make sense to request a refund of the contributions you paid to the public pension in Germany? We explain it to you!
Dr. Chris Mulder

Dr. Chris is a former Senior Economist and Manager at the IMF and The World Bank. He is a Hypofriend Co-founder.

Published on Nov 30, 2022 Published on Nov 30, 2022 . Updated 3 months ago

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Dr. Chris is a former Senior Economist and Manager at the IMF and The World Bank. He is a Hypofriend Co-founder.

When working in Germany as an employee, you pay 9,3 % of your gross income each month into the German state pension scheme. But only after you have paid contributions for at least 5 years are you actually entitled to a state-funded pension. We show you what you should do if you do not meet this minimum requirement. Only in a few cases are you eligible for a refund. For many, the option to meet the minimum conditions is much more interesting.

The key points

  • If you are not eligible for a pension and are not expected to reach the minimum contribution period of 5 years to get a pension, you want to ask for an immediate refund of your contributions.
  • But, you are only entitled to a refund if you are not a German or EU citizen and not from a country with a social security agreement with Germany or live in any of these three areas.
  • As you will not get back the employer contributions, nor any parental points you have built up, it usually makes more sense to try to meet the minimum 5-year requirements e.g. by working in Germany or another EU country, or a state like Australia or the US that has an agreement with Germany.
  • Only if you are relatively young (under 40) and a good investor or if you just worked for 2-3 years does it make sense to request a refund. Keep in mind that most individuals are not good investors. We advise a disciplined investment in that case like Pensionfriend's PPP with good ETF choices.
  • For many people (those that expect to live long, or are not good investors) it makes sense to meet the minimum requirements for example by working a year longer.
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