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Transitional allowance

The transitional allowance from the social insurance for seafarers, which is often colloquially referred to as a “seafarers´ pension“ is not a benefit which is paid by the statutory pension insurance, even though the calculations are identical.

You can apply for a transitional allowance if you meet the following requirements.

All of the requirements must be fulfilled in their entirety.

You should:

  • have reached the age of 56,
  • no longer be permanently employed as a sailor, coastal mariner, coastal fisher or otherwise on board a ship as a self-employed person in the seafaring industry – and also not on board a ship which sales under a foreign flag,
  • not have an entitlement to a pension on the grounds of a full reduction in earning capacity or a full retirement pension pursuant to the German state pension insurance regulations,
  • not have an entitlement to unemployment benefit I,
  • not have drawn temporary transitional allowance,
  • fulfilled the qualifying period,
  • have been employed in the German seafaring industry (including high-sea and coastal fishing) for a minimum period of 108 months upon attaining the age of 38 (assessment date) or have worked as a coastal mariner and coastal fisher.

The assessment date (38 years of age) is brought forward by periods of unemployment upon you attaining the age of 50 as long as contribution or non-income periods exist in the pension insurance.

The qualifying period for a transitional allowance is fulfilled if a non-income period of seafaring of 240 months (20 years) has been completed.
There is no entitlement to a transitional allowance if you are entitled to unemployment benefit I and corresponding foreign benefits.

This is also the case

  • if unemployment benefit was only not granted because it was not applied for or
  • you did not register unemployed,
  • because there is an entitlement to sickness benefit instead of unemployment benefit

    In these cases, the social insurance for seafarers pays the difference between a possibly lower unemployment benefit and a higher transitional allowance. Priority must however be given to benefits from the employment agency.

There is no right to choose between unemployment benefit and a transitional allowance.

No demand will be made here that you refuse to except employment on land or even terminate such employment. The unemployment benefit entitlement can only be exhausted as long as it really does exist, meaning that there really is an unemployment situation.

Benefit supplement

All transitional allowances including the one-off compensation payment are increased by a benefit supplement of 7.5 percent of the corresponding payment amount. No supplements are paid for health and nursing care insurance.

Termination and temporary employment

An entitlement to benefits from the social insurance for seafarers is only given if the applicant has permanently terminated the nautical employment or self-employed activity. The taking up of a new nautical employment at a later moment in time after the permanent termination of employment in the seafaring industry does not constitute a ground for the non payment of benefits however. No transitional allowance will be paid for the period of nautical employment however.

The transitional allowance will continue to be paid as from the age of 55 in accordance with transitional regulations. We can provide you with personal advice on these requirements upon request.

Maintaining pension claims

A person who is in receipt of a transitional allowance should continue to register unemployed so as to ensure that non-income periods are acquired due to unemployment in normal cases so that pension entitlements (e.g. a reduction in earning capacity or a retirement pension as from the age of 60) are maintained. This is also valid for the former self-employed coastal fisher or coastal mariner who was liable to pay pension insurance contributions. Periods of unemployment in an EU member country will be taken into account for the entitlement to a German retirement pension as long as corresponding proof can be provided. We would be pleased to provide you with additional information on this.

The registering unemployed is obviously not applicable as long as you work on land.

Reduction of the transitional allowance if no retirement pension entitlement exists.

The social insurance for seafarers checks whether the person who receives a transitional allowance can be granted a premature and therefore reduced retirement pension. The transitional allowance will be reduced if this is not possible because the requirements have not been fulfilled. This reduction corresponds to the same amount as the full retirement pension would be reduced if one was to receive it prematurely.

The pension must be drawn.

The person who is in receipt of the transitional allowance has an obligation to draw the full retirement pension as long as the insurance law requirements are given. The transitional allowance payments will be stopped as from the date of the pension being granted.
In the state pension insurance, the respective retirement ages are adjusted and a premature drawing of the pension always results in a pension reduction. The social insurance for seafarers compensates this in that the insured person is paid the difference between the reduced and the full retirement pension until the statutory retirement age is reached.
The social insurance pension is not only reduced as the result of it being drawn prematurely, but also as a result of other legal measures. In order to compensate this loss of income, the social insurance for seafarers grants special compensation which can either be granted alone or together with the pension reduction compensation. As the retirement pension is also reduced after the statutory retirement age, the insured person is granted a one-off payment as an additional transitional allowance upon him attaining this age. We would be pleased to inform you of the expected amount upon request. A contribution to the pension insurance is possible but only for the part which is granted on the grounds of a premature drawing of the pension. We advise you to make a contribution to the state pension insurance in order to increase the pension.
This rule is also valid for a pension due to a full reduction in earnings capacity with effect from October 2001.

Benefit after attaining the statutory retirement age

In addition to the transitional allowance and the benefit supplements which are paid as a transitional allowance, a benefit will also be paid by the social insurance for seafarers upon the attainment of the statutory retirement age. The requirements already referred to must be fundamentally met.

You should have:

  • reached the statutory retirement age having validity for you (65-67),
  • no longer be permanently employed as a sailor, coastal mariner, coastal fisher or otherwise on board a ship as a self-employed person in the seafaring industry – and also not on board a ship which sales under a foreign flag,
  • not have drawn a temporary transitional allowance
  • fulfilled the qualifying period
  • been employed in the German seafaring industry (including high-sea and coastal fishing) for a minimum period of 108 months upon attaining the age of 38 (assessment date) or have worked as a coastal mariner and coastal fisher.

We refer to the above explanations with regard to the individual requirements.

The benefit will also be paid in addition to a retirement pension or statutory retirement age if the requirements are met. It is however restricted to a payment duration of 2 years and an amount corresponding to half of the pension payment which has been calculated as being payable upon attainment of the statutory retirement age. Furthermore, it is also reduced by all of the benefits which were previously paid by the social insurance for seafarers.

Experience has shown that questions especially arise before attaining the decisive age limit on the

  • termination of the nautical employment,
  • subsequent unemployment,
  • possible taking up of new employment in the seafaring industry,
  • taking up of employment on land,
  • health/nursing care insurance and
  • retirement pension later with a deduction compensation.

We have included a selection of frequently asked questions in the “asked” service column of the social insurance for seafarers and have answered them for you.
A final remark: the payment of transitional allowance, difference payment or benefit respectively commences upon attainment of the statutory retirement age, on the date of the application at the earliest. We recommend that you contact us or our information and advice centre in good time.
For additional information, we recommend our information brochures or even better, a discussion with the German Knappschaft-Bahn-See pension insurance information and advice centres.


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