Why shouldn't the government pay old-age pension?

Are farmers not entitled to the basic pension?

The SPD and CDU / CSU have long struggled to get it, from 2021 it should come: the basic pension, which will benefit people with below-average incomes. The final draft law has not yet been submitted, and whether the basic pension will actually exist also depends on the future of the grand coalition. Even now, farmers in Bavaria are already being accused of being excluded from the basic pension.

"The grand coalition forgot the farmers when it came to the basic pension," it says on the specialist portal agrarheute of the German agricultural publisher. The German Farmers' Association also lacks provisions for the old-age security of farmers in the draft law on the basic pension. For farmers this comes at a time when they are already not on the right track with the federal government: For months they have been demonstrating across Germany against the federal government's agricultural package and against the alleged "propaganda" against farmers. The #Faktenfuchs checks what is true of the claims about the basic pension.

Are farmers and other self-employed people not entitled to a basic pension?

The first requirement for being able to get the basic pension is: You have to be insured with the statutory German pension insurance. The basic pension should be a benefit from it and therefore only relates to the contributors.

However, statutory insurance does not apply to most self-employed persons, civil servants, judges and soldiers. Even farmers - unlike self-employed craftsmen, midwives or educators, for example - are not compulsorily insured with the German Pension Insurance.

Farmers are normally compulsorily insured through the agricultural retirement fund, a special system for self-employed agricultural entrepreneurs, their spouses and family members who work with them.

Second requirement for the basic pension: According to the Ministry of Labor, only those who have paid into the German pension insurance for at least 35 years will be taken into account in the income test for entitlement to it. "Regardless of the occupation, those who do not have the required times in the statutory pension insurance are excluded," wrote a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Labor to BR24.

That means that not all people in Germany can get a basic pension anyway. According to estimates by the Ministry of Labor, up to 1.5 million people in Germany, many of them women.

Years of contributions by farmers to the agricultural old-age fund do not count towards the required 35 years of insurance for the basic pension, because it is a special system that is separate from the statutory pension insurance. As a result, many farmers do not meet the requirements to receive the planned basic pension. This emerges from a statement by the Ministry of Labor to BR24.

Which farmers can still be entitled to a basic pension?

However, there are exceptions: Long-term part-time farmers can be entitled to the basic pension if they have paid long enough contributions from their main occupation to the statutory pension insurance. This was confirmed by the BR24 Ministry of Labor.

If you are a part-time farmer, you can apply for exemption from the agricultural retirement fund and, on application, compulsorily insure yourself through the statutory pension fund. Decisive for the exemption from the farmers' coffers is the income forecast from their different areas of work, as the Federal Social Court ruled in March 2019. And those who do not meet the requirements of the agricultural pension fund because they farm too little land and have only a small number of livestock are not even compulsorily insured there. Even then it is possible to insure yourself through the statutory pension fund.

Why is there no replacement scheme for farmers?

Walter Heidl, Vice President of the German Farmers 'Association, says that he misses the basic pension "corresponding regulations for the farmers' families who are compulsorily insured in the special pension scheme for farmers". Otmar König from the Baden Agricultural Main Association also criticizes the lack of a corresponding supplementary regulation for retirees in the agricultural old-age fund. So do we need special regulations for farmers and other self-employed who do not pay into the statutory pension insurance and thus cannot collect the necessary contribution years?

According to the Federal Ministry of Labor, the basic pension cannot be transferred to the farmers' pension system for two reasons:

In contrast to the statutory pension insurance, the farmers' retirement fund levies a unitary contribution that is independent of income. Farmers with lower incomes receive staggered contribution grants. From the point of view of the Ministry of Labor, there is therefore no need to add value to below-average income in the case of pensions. "This would ultimately also be a double benefit for farmers," said a spokesman for the ministry.

In addition, the farmers' pension fund - unlike the statutory pension insurance - is only a partial insurance for old age. It is the same with the pension insurance of many other self-employed. Farmers would have to make private provisions to an even greater extent than those with statutory insurance, especially by leasing their farms. "The active farmers and working family members could and had to adjust to this," said a spokesman for the ministry.

Will anything change in that?

At the moment the government is still working on the draft law in which it defines the planned regulations for the basic pension. Following a draft bill from the Ministry of Labor in May last year, the government agreed on compromises in November and changes are still pending: For example, the SPD wanted a basic pension without a means test, which the Union did not agree to. An income test is now planned for the basic pension. Instead of 2.5 million pensioners, between 1.2 and 1.5 million people could receive the basic pension, according to the Ministry of Labor.

Ministry of Agriculture is considering complementary measures for farmers

Otmar König from the Baden Agricultural Main Association spoke in a statement that adapted solutions should now be found for farmers, since there are also "comparable groups of people in need of support" in the farmers' pension fund.

Apart from the position of the Ministry of Labor, a spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture BR24 said that the Ministry of Agriculture is currently examining whether "other accompanying measures are possible for farmers in this area".

It could look completely different again if the self-employed are to pay into the statutory pension fund in the future. One goal of the coalition agreement is the "inclusion of the self-employed in statutory pension insurance with an opt-out solution and an obligation to provide for old age". If this is implemented, the self-employed could also be entitled to the basic pension as contributors in the future.

Conclusion:

According to the Ministry of Labor, the current plans of the federal government do not provide for a basic pension for self-employed full-time farmers and their families. The reason is that they are usually insured in the agricultural pension scheme and not pay into the statutory pension insurance - just like most of the self-employed in Germany. Only those who have paid contributions to the statutory pension insurance for 35 years and are classified as needy according to their income can receive the top-up of the basic pension.

The Ministry of Labor points out that lower-income farmers would already receive contributions to the pension insurance in the agricultural pension fund. In his view, the basic pension for farmers would be a "double benefit". According to a spokeswoman, the Ministry of Agriculture wants to examine "accompanying measures" for farmers.