Family Benefits and Pension

Information about the parental benefits and old-age pension available in Germany...

Family Benefits

Maternity benefit (Mutterschaftsgeld)

The period of statutory maternity leave of 12 weeks, 6 weeks before and 6 weeks after the birth, can be extended where there is danger to the health of the mother or the baby or in the event of multiple births.

Maternity benefits are available to all employees who are active contributors to a health insurance fund. Mothers are entitled to their full net income, of which a certain percentage is paid per month by the health insurance fund and the rest by their employer.

Parental benefit (Elternzeit)

Parents are entitled to up to 14 months of paid time off taken between the two parents (or 12 months if just one parents takes it). The parent(s) are paid up to 67 percent of their salary; payments are based on income and the recipient's tax bracket. This leave is only available after the birth of the child. If the leave is shared, the minimum each may take is two months off. Employers must be given at least 7 weeks' notice that an employee intends to take this benefit.

Self-employed individuals are eligible for the parental benefit. For those not working before the birth, a minimum monthly payment may be available.

The parental benefit can be paid up to three months retroactively, therefore application can be made after the birth. Where application is made differs from state to state. Contact the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend) for further information.

Child benefit allowance (Kindergeld)

Parents receive child benefit, which is paid monthly for each child up to the age of 18 (21 if unemployed, up to 27 if in full time education). A slightly higher benefit is paid for the fourth child and any further children. Parents may claim a continued allowance for disabled children over the age of 27 if they are unable to care for themselves and the disability occurred before the age of 27. Should the disabled person receive income that exceeds €7,680, they will no longer be entitled to this allowance. Claims can be made at the local family benefits fund (Familienkasse) or the local employment office (Arbeitsagentur).

  • More information on child benefits can be found on Eltern.de, a website with information on becoming and being a parent in Germany

Carer's insurance benefit (Pflegeversicherung)

A carer's allowance is payable to insured people who organise care provision for themselves. The allowance depends on the degree and frequency of care required. This may be supplemented with in-kind support, such as the work provided by a professional care worker. When care giving comes to an end, former carers have the right to a temporary allowance to facilitate their return to work.

Parents may also be entitled to care insurance payments if they can prove that caring for their disabled child is considerably more time-consuming than for a non-disabled child of the same age.

Further information can be obtained from the local health insurance organisation (Krankenkasse).

Old-age Pension (Altersrente)

Pension benefits are available to those aged 65 with at least five years of social security contributions. The total amount of the pension is calculated using individual annual earnings points as contributed over the years. In general, the longer the duration and value of contributions have been, the higher the final pension will be.

Top-up pensions (Riesterrenten) are available through additional private pension schemes.

Early pension: it is possible to receive a pension at an earlier age, depending on certain conditions such as minimum years of contribution, age of application and employment status. Similarly, partial and deferred pensions (after 65) are possible. Further information can be obtained from the state pension office (Landesversicherungsanstalt).

After the death of the insured person, a reduced pension may be payable to their surviving spouse (Witwenrente/Witwerrente) or their orphaned child (Waisenrente).

Pension based on reduction in earning capacity (Erwerbsminderungsrente)

People who are unable to work for more than three hours a week based on normal working conditions and whose disabilities are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future are entitled to a full pension. The amount of this pension is halved if the working hours extend to between three and six hours per week.

The assessment of working capacity is linked to health reasons and not to the person's capacities for a current, specific job, this means that the applicant is judged against their potential participation in the general job market and not solely their own previously chosen profession.

The monthly amount depends on the pensioner's years of contribution, their previous and current average earning and their place of residence in Germany (for example in the "old" or "new" German federal states). The pension fund (Rentenversicherungsträger) of the disabled person can give further information and process claims.

Additional Benefits

Additional benefits may be available to those on low incomes and socially disadvantaged people. Financial payments, such as accommodation benefit (Wohngeld), heating benefit (Beitrag zu den Heizkosten) and additional child benefit (Kinderzuschlag), and other support are available through the social offices (Sozialämter) of town and city councils throughout Germany.

Further Information