Social Security Benefits in Germany

Information on the benefits available to residents in Germany, where and how to register with the authorities and what contributions and benefits to expect...

The German social security system covers unemployment, health, pension, sickness, and carer's insurance, as well as maternity benefits and child allowances and is funded by contributions from the employed, employers and self-employed as well as the state, in four insurance schemes:

  • Health insurance (Krankenversicherung)
  • Unemployment insurance (Arbeitslosenversicherung)
  • Nursing care insurance (Pflegeversicherung)
  • Pension insurance (Rentenversicherung)

The people covered are:

  • Employed persons (including apprentices)
  • Most self-employed persons
  • Carers for children under the age of three
  • Recipients of social benefits (for example unemployment benefit)
  • Conscripted soldiers or those doing community service instead of military service

The Main Organisations

  • The Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG) provides general supervision over health insurance matters
  • The Ministry for Work and Social Matters (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales, BMAS) regulates social and unemployment contributions as well as general conditions for access to benefits
  • The Institute for Pension Insurance (Bundesversicherungsanstalt) is the national pension insurance body. State insurance institutes (Landesversicherunganstalten) administer the pension funds of employees in their area
  • Unemployment benefit registration and payments are made through the local employment agency (Arbeitsagentur)
    • To find the nearest district unemployment office: Click here
  • Social benefits for those on low income are administered by either the social offices (Sozial Ämter) of the city or town council of residence or the Arbeitsagentur or jointly

Separate organisations administer benefits for the employed, self-employed, agricultural workers and miners. Health insurance funds (Krankenkassen) normally collect contributions for employees from employers for all areas of social security cover, apart from accident insurance which is administered by the German Social Accident Insurance (Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung - DGUV).