Pension ABC


A. Starting or changing my job

A1. When would I be insured with the Versorgungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder (VBL)?

When you work in the public service in Germany, the collective labor agreement states that you are required to have an occupational retirement pension. With the exception of the Saarland and the Hanse City of Hamburg, this pension service is provided by the VBL.


A2. Who pays the contributions/premiums for my pension?

Your employer transfers the contributions towards your VBL insurance as your occupational/supplementary pension provision. These amounts also contain a so-called employee’s share (called “Eigenanteil”). There are different revenues to be paid in the eastern and western Länder because there are separate financing pools and different financing methods. Regarding the rate of contributions/ premiums read question A5. The rates applicable may depend on the area where your actual workplace is located –should your employer’s headquarter be in another area as the workplace.

You can find the bargaining agreement applicable for your employment in your contract. If not, please ask your employer.


A3. What happens if my employment contract is extended or continued?

The reason why you have to distinguish between the two mentioned areas in Germany follows from the German reunification 1989. In the new parts of Germany (eastern Länder), the supplementary pension was rolled out in 1997. Due the fact that the eastern Länder still had very low pension liabilities, it was decided to start a separate financing for their obligations. However, the pension calculations are the same for both areas.


According to that, the pension payments from the VBLklassik in the area of the western Länder are financed by a pay-as-you-go system. In the eastern Länder the financing method for the obligations comprises a mixed or hybrid system, meaning that it is partially capital-funded and partially pay-as-you-go. Consequently, the revenues and shares are different.


A4. What happens if my contract is complete and I begin working elsewhere?

The revenues (contributions/premiums)* towards the occupational/supplementary pension provision are transferred by your employer, but these amounts also contain a so-called employee’s share (Eigenanteil). All revenues are agreed in collective bargaining agreements or stated within the VBL statutes. Currently there are three so-called collective bargaining areas within the public sector. The German Federation and the municipalities negotiate their agreements together, as well as the German Länder - except Hessen. The State of Hessen has got its own bargaining agreement, but applies the regulation of the German Länder for the topic of occupational pension provision. The employees‘ share of contributions/ premiums depends on the collective bargaining affiliation of your employer, or collective bargaining law applicable to your employment contract. Until the 1st of July 2015 the revenues were fixed as follows:

VBLklassik western Länder

  Total Employer's share Employers share
Contributions 7,86% 6,45% 1,41%

VBLklassik eastern Länder

  Total Employer's share Employer's share
Contributions 1,00% 1,00%  
Premiums 4,00% 2,00% 2,00%

* Contributions are paid into a pay-as-go-go scheme; Premiums are paid into a capital-funded scheme

Please note the amendments: Additional employees’ contributions/premiums shares introduced
Actuarial reports have shown that the present percentage rate of revenues had to be increased on account of rising life expectancy, demographic changes and deteriorating interest rate expectations. For these reasons the different collective bargaining associations have, each in separate negotiations, decided upon an additional employee contribution towards the share being paid already. Within these areas, the amounts can vary until 2018 since there are different bargaining agreements.


A5. What happens if my contract is complete and I begin working elsewhere in Germany?

  • You have switched to another employer who insures its employees also with VBLklassik your insurance will continue in that scheme. All previous times and contributions go towards the 60 months qualifying period.
  • Your new employer is a member of another German supplementary public sector pension fund (in a clinic for example) then these contributions are recognised by VBLklassik and vice versa. Therefore, there is no gap in your insurance history.
  • Your new employer does not belong to the public sector your insurance membership is deferred because contributions cannot be paid into the VBLklassik scheme any longer. However, you have the option to pay contributions into the voluntary VBLextra scheme, see question B5.

In all scenarios, you retain all your pension entitlements. Please keep us updated on any changes in address. See question A10.


A6. What happens if my contract is complete and I begin working outside of Germany?

There will no longer be any contribution payment into your VBLklassik scheme when your employment relation ends

  • your employer terminates your insurance membership
  • your VBLklassik scheme is deferred, however
  • you retain your pension entitlements and you may be entitled for a monthly pension when you retire (see B1)
  • you may be entitled to claim for a refund of your own contributions, see A8

Since the VBLklassik is financed pay-as-you-go or hybrid (see questions A2, A4), it is not possible to transfer the capital value of the entitlements. The one exception to this is for employees of a European Union institution, more information in question A 9.
Please keep us updated on any changes in address, see question A10 for more details.


A7. Can I claim for a refund of the VBLklassik contributions?

The answer depends on where you have accrued your pension entitlements, due to the different financing methods in western and eastern Länder, Please distinguish between the western (8.1.) and the eastern Länder (8.2) in Germany:

7.1 In the western Länder
You can only get your share of contributions refunded in the western Länder, if you have not fulfilled the qualifying period of 60 months. Otherwise, you are entitled to a pension and will benefit from it once you have retired. Pensions can be paid out worldwide.

Should the qualifying period not be fulfilled, please note:
It is possible to apply for a refund of your own (not your employer’s) contributions. Please send an application to the VBL before you reach the age of 69! The refund will render the insurance null and void. Consequently, in case of possible future contracts in the German public sector the insurance will start anew. Service times cannot be reinstated!

Recommendation: You should be sure that you won’t return to Germany to work in the public sector again before you apply for a refund.

7.2 In the eastern Länder
Should you not have fulfilled the required qualifying period of 60 months, you are still entitled to a pension, which only bases on your premiums in the VBLklassik in the eastern Länder. Therefore, you cannot claim for a refund of your paid premiums in this financing pool. Should you leave your employer before being entitled for the full pension amount (based on your and employers’s share) you retain your accrued pension entitlements until you retire. If your pension entitlement ends up to be less than 29,05 Euro (western Länder) and 25,20 Euro (eastern Länder) per month (value in 2016) you can apply for a lump sum payment instead of a monthly pension payment.


A8. Can I make use of cross-border transfers (in or out) of pension capital within the VBLklassik provision?

There is no transferability in the VBLklassik scheme with the exception of European Union (EU), European Patent Organisation (EPO) and European University Institute (EUI) staff*.
*currently (July 2016)


A9. How to update my personal data?

You can update your personal data by informing us of your new address in writing:

Versorgungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder (VBL)
KM - Kundenservice
Hans-Thoma Str. 19
76133 Karlsruhe
Germany


Via email at:

kundenservice@vbl.de

or change your address online on the VBL website:

www.vbl.de under Meine VBL

Meine VBL is the personal section within the VBL customer portal. Access to Meine VBL offers the following: Contract details, change of details, VBL statements and various online calculators. It is also possible to apply for your pension via Meine VBL, see question C.3.
You can register on ww.meinevbl.de. Thereafter, you can use your personal data to login onto the VBL website via Meine VBL. More information in German only www.meinevbl.de.


B. My pension benefits

B1. What are the benefits of VBL?

  • Old-age pension*
  • Incapacity pension
  • Survivors’ pension (spouse, registered partner, orphans) – orphaned children up till the age of 25, if they are still students

* The standard retirement age used to be 65 for both men and women but is gradually increased until it reaches 67 in 2029.

Be aware: Benefits are paid out on application only. You can apply in writing or online on www.vbl.de under Meine VBL.


B2. Is there a minimum period of eligibility?

Once you are insured with VBLklassik there must have been 60 months of contribution payments in order to accrue a full pension (meaning vested entitlements) This requirement is ruled in the collective agreement on pensions (Tarifvertrag Altersversorgung – ATV) and permitted by law in the Act on the Promotion of Occupational Pensions (Gesetz zur Verbesserung der betrieblichen Altersversorgung [Betriebsrentengesetz – BetrAVG]).

The 60 months of contributions must not be fulfilled consecutively or with the same employer. Insurance times at a public sector occupational pension fund in Germany are counted together or acknowledged in terms of the qualifying period.


B3. How high can I expect my pension to be?

For comprehensive pension planning, use the online-planner on the VBLportal.

Link:


If you have any queries about the online-planner or pension-calculator please contact our customer service team.

Calculation:
With the simple formula below you can calculate your own pension points for the year. Divide a twelfth of your annual pensionable salary by the reference salary of €1000. Then multiply that by your age factor (Table of age factor values available here). The result, rounded up to 2 decimal points is your pension points for the year.

The calculation for your pension amount is identical for the western and the eastern Länder in Germany: see formula below

Pension Points       X  4 = monthly pension amount

Find out the age factors
www.vbl.de/de/versicherte/pflichtversicherung/vblklassik/berechnung


B4. Do I receive an annual benefit statement?

Active members receive an annual benefit statement (“Versicherungsnachweis”) after each calendar year and at the end of the insurance period showing pension amounts accrued up to date. This is regardless of the insurance times.

If you are not an active member, you can request a pension benefit statement.

When you are registered under Meine VBL you will find your statements only here and will not receive these by post anymore.

Check the VBLklassik example statement under the new feature My track

In order to keep track of the different pension providers you have been affiliated with during your career as a researcher you can register to the FYP My track section. Here you’re offered the possibility to save your career- and pension biography, and to understand how to read a pension statement.


B5. Can I increase my future pension by paying additional contributions?

Yes, you can. In addition to the supplementary pension of VBL you accrue under the collective labor agreement, you can increase your occupational pension by making your own contributions on a voluntary basis.
It is important to note that when insured with a voluntary additional VBLextra insurance you may be eligible for state subsidies such as ‚Riester’ or take advantage from the so called ‚Entgeltumwandlung’ (deferred compensation). Deferred compensation works on the basis of an agreement (between employee and employer) to convert part of your gross income into pension contributions, thus saving tax and social security fees.
Should you be interested in additional voluntary pension saving with the VBL please refer to the vbl.de website or the printed booklets.


C. Nearing retirement

C1. When am I entitled to claim my benefits?

The VBL benefits are paid when:

    - You reach retirement age or become incapacitated / disabled according to the conditions detailed in the German Social Insurance Code (SGB).

Note: If you were insured with the Deutsche Rentenversicherung (DRV) you have to present a certificate from the DRV about the amount of your pension.

    - When the benefits will be claimed as survivors’ pension for your spouse, registered partner, orphaned and half-orphaned children is provided.


C2. How high can I expect my pension to be?

See B3


C3. How can I apply for my pension?

The easiest way is to send an online application via the online portal Meine VBL*,
https://www.vbl.de/de/meine_vbl/

You can also find the actual application form on:
https://www.vbl.de/de/rentner/rente_beantragen/

*For more information on Meine VBL , please refer to question A10.


C4. How will the pension be paid out?

4.1. If you live within the European Economic Area (EEA).

Your occupational pension amount is paid out in advance, on a monthly basis as pension or as a lump sum to your bank account. Here are no extra costs involved.

4.2. If you live outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Paying out the monthly pension amount (or the lump sum) outside the EEA is possible as well. However, the VBL can decide that:

  • You as a recipient have to pay for the additional bank charges or costs which may occur for the bank transfer outside the EEA.
  • You need to appoint an authorised receiving representative in Germany.

D. VBLextra

D1. More information about VBLextra

You can find more information about VBLextra here: https://fyp.prd.pub.etsdc.eu/default-df7f54f884