If you do not receive a pension or your pension is too low to support your livelihood, you can apply for the so-called " basic subsistence income " ("Grungsicherung"). The basic subsistence income scheme pays you an allowance similar to the social assistance, so that you can pay your rent and service charges, your health and long-term care insurance fees as well as food and clothing costs.
You are entitled to basic subsistence income if the following prerequisites are met:
- You have reached the age of regular old-age pension.
- You have no assets, and your monthly income is less than 838 euros, including your pension, wages of possible occupations and the income of your spouse.
- You live in Germany.
- You have a residence permit or are a German citizen.
You must apply for the basic subsistence income directly at the Social Welfare Office at your place of residence and renew the application every 12 months. Remember to apply on time, as a retroactive payment of the basic subsistence income is not possible. You can read more at The Basic Subsistence Income: Assistance for Pensioners.
In January 2021, the so-called “Grundrente” or basic pension has been introduced. In contrast to the basic subsistence income, for a basic pesion, the assets of the pensioners are not checked- instead the authorities will check whether the pensioners have additional income from rental property or a company or private pension. So assets per se are not checked. The basic pension scheme is intended to ensure that fewer pensioners will need to apply for basic subsistence income at the Social Welfare Office. It will spare pensioners the bureaucratic hassle and trips to the Social Welfare Office.
You are entitled to basic pension if you meet the following requirements:
- You have reached the age limit for pension (Regelaltersrente).
- You have paid into the pension scheme for at least 33 years. Times when you have looked after your children at home or have taken care for relatives also count. Important: This also takes into account your contribution to pension scheme(s) in other countries with which Germany has concluded a “social security agreement” (“Sozialversicherungsabkommen”) or countries to which EU law applies. Your contribution to pension schemes in Turkey or the USA is not included.
- You have earned relatively little over the years. To be precise, you must not have earned more than 80 percent of the average annual income.
The basic pension is paid in addition to your normal pension- and the amount of it depends on your income and the duration and amount of your previous contributions to the pension insurance. The highest possible surcharge is around EUR 404 gross or EUR 360 net.
You do not have to apply for the basic pension- it is automatically paid along with your normal pension by the pension insurance. That means your pension insurance will automatically check your income using the data from your Tax Office. Furthermore, if you live abroad, your basic pension can also be transferred abroad. In other words, you do not need to have a place of residence in Germany.
The basic pension is not expected to be paid until July 2021. Some retirees will even have to wait until the end of 2022 for the payout. However, they will then be paid all they are entitled since January 2021, when the scheme was introduced.
You can read more about the basic pension in German on German Pension Insurance‘s website (“Deutschen Rentenversicherung”).