What are they and why I need them?
Germany has an efficient social security system which covers those who are insured against unemployment, illness, long-term health issues, occupational accidents and old age. In Germany, insurance regulations are set by the state. The benefits are paid (according to the regulations) by the so-called "Sozialversicherungsträgern" or social insurance providers, i.e. the health insurance companies, the trade associations, the Employment Office ("Arbeitsamt") and the German Pension Insurance ("Rentenversicherung").
What do I need to know?
Anyone who is working as an employee ("Arbeitnehmer") and earns more than €520 per month, have to make social security contributions in Germany. If you earn less (i.e. have a "Mini-job"), you are exempt from social security contributions. Those who are self-employed can voluntarily make contributions and acquire coverage. You can find out more in our chapters "Mini-job", "Starting up a Registered Business ("Gewerbe")" and "Starting up as Self-Employed ("Freiberufler")".
Please note: Everyone in Germany must be covered by health insurance, whether their job entails social insurance contributions or otherwise. You can read more in our chapter "Health insurance".
The German social security system consists of five pillars:
- Health insurance: Health insurance covers the costs of illnesses and pregnancies. You can find out more in our chapter "Health insurance".
- Nursing care insurance: Nursing care insurance covers the costs when nursing care is needed. You can find out more in our chapter "Nursing Care System".
- Accident insurance: Accident insurance covers the costs in case of a work-related accident or occupational disease. You can learn more in our chapter “Labour Rights”.
- Unemployment insurance: Unemployment insurance secures your livelihood if you lose your job.
- Pension insurance: Pension insurance pays your living expenses when you are no longer able to work due to your age or illness. You can find out more in our chapter "Retiring in Germany".
You are automatically covered by pension, accident, nursing and unemployment insurance, so you have no choice there. With health insurance, however, you can choose from a variety of companies. You can find out more in our chapter "Health insurance".
You and your employer each pay half of your total contribution to health insurance, long-term care insurance, pension insurance and unemployment insurance. Your employer makes accident insurance contributions on your behalf. The amount of your contributions depends on your income. Each social security provider receives a certain percentage of your gross income- and the rate is adjusted regularly. You can learn more about your current social insurance contributions on ihre-vorsorge.de.
Please note: you do not have to worry about making social insurance contributions. Your employer deducts the designated percentage from your gross wages and transfers the money together with the employer's share directly to the social security institutions in charge.
When you start a job entailing social security contributions for the first time in Germany, you will receive a so-called "Social Security Card"(„Sozialversicherungsausweis“). Your name and your social security number appear on this ID card. Keep in mind that your social security number remains valid for life. When you start a new job, you must give your employer your social security number.
If you have lost your Social Security Card, you can request a new one from the German Pension Insurance. You can do so online at eservice-drv.de.
If you find a job which entails social security contributions, your employer will register you for social security. To do so, he/she will ask you about your social security number, which you can find on your social security card. Don't forget to keep the card in a safe place. If you do not have a social security number yet, you will be sent one after an employer registers you.