I'm an American and have been working in Germany for the past few years, first in a company and now as a Beamter (government employee). I am planning to move back to the U.S., and had a question about Social Security.

By the time I move, I do not believe I will qualify for any sort of German pension however small (roughly 2 years in industry & 2 years as Beamter, which I've also heard have different pension systems). I have heard people say many times that the U.S. and Germany have an agreement where time working in one country is recognized by the other country's social security system (https://www.ssa.gov/international/Agreement_Pamphlets/germany.html).

Do you know how this works? (And does the Beamter distinction change anything? In Germany, I have a smaller salary as a Beamter, but also pay slightly different German taxes.)

Before I leave Germany, need I acquire some sort of paperwork (and presumably a stamp) proving my employment record, or are these things already known by the U.S. Social Security Administration? I would much rather take care of these things while I am here; I can only imagine it being much more difficult by phone or by post.

Thanks in advance for any advice you have!

  • 2
    The social security benefit is based on your top 35 years' earnings. Unless your 2 years in German industry are your highest salary of your career, or you work a total of 35 years or fewer, your concern may not be relevant. (Only a comment, as I realize it doesn't directly answer the question as posed). Jan 19, 2017 at 13:06
  • I've worked here 4 years (unless you mean to say that the time as Beamter does not count for some reason?). But really I will only know my highest salary in 30 years or so. What I am interested in learning is how the agreement between the U.S. and Germany works (I don't know if you've dealt much with German bureaucracy, but it's tricky enough in person!).
    – auser
    Jan 19, 2017 at 17:29
  • As a US citizen who moved back from Canada, although it's not an answer to your question, I feel duty-bound to warn you that some US states do NOT honor federal tax treaties. Be careful about things like holding foreign mutual funds in an overseas version of an IRA, because a state like California will try to tax it annually and holding investments which don't give the proper 1099 forms (or at least a PFIC annual information statement) can cause problems.
    – B Chin
    Apr 6, 2017 at 5:15

1 Answer 1


According to this site:

You can apply for German benefits at any U.S. Social Security office by completing application form SSA-2490.

So have a look at this form and collect everything you need.

But this site also says that you need to have at least 5 years of pay.

Worker-Male or female-Benefits payable at: age 65 with 5 years of coverage...

I have found the info of 5 years minimum also elsewhere. So I guess you do not get any money from the Rentenversicherung (i.e. from the normal job) and I doubt that they will change that in the future. You may receive some money from your time as a Beamter and after 5 years as a Beamter it would be quite some money. But on some other site it has the 5 year figure also for the Pension:

Die Pension wird für Beamte und Richter nur dann gezahlt, wenn diese mindestens fünf Jahre im Dienst aktiv tätig waren.

They have also numbers to call on the first site, so you may ask them.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .