Rentenversicherung? Isn’t that the musical with all the HIV stuff?

This statement will only be understood by a few of my readers:  I mailed my V901 form about a month ago to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund in Berlin.

Here’s what that means for those of you who don’t speak German Bureaucracy:  Rentenversicherung is German for pension insurance.  Every person who earns a paycheck in Germany contributes a portion of their check to the pension fund, and the German government does some form of matching.  It is in this way that people create retirement funds in Deutschland.

While I was in Germany, I was “localized.”  This means that I was on German payroll, German benefits, German vacation allotment, and so forth.  My 401k back in the US sat, stagnant, with no contributions for those three years, but a part of every check went into the Rentenversicherung.  Three years of monthly contributions is not a fortune, but it’s still a tidy little sum of money that I’m eager to reclaim.

While I could wait until I reach retirement age to get a tiny check from Germany every so often, there’s a way to get this money which is much more useful to me now.  Americans who pay into the German pension fund have an option to file a form to request that their contributions (but not the matching funds from the German government) be paid out to them.  The V901 is that form.  There are a few guidelines:

  1. You must not have stayed in Germany for more than five years.
  2. You must not have lived in Germany for at least 24 months prior to filing your claim.  Or anywhere in the European Union, I think.
  3. You must not be averse to filing a really complicated eleven page document through regular mail.   I wanted to go to the German Consulate in Miami to do this, but they said I just needed to mail it directly to Berlin.
  4. If you’re not American, a completely different set of rules applies to you.

I mailed this out over a month ago, and my response was a letter yesterday from an office in Hamburg with, you guessed it, another form to fill out and mail back!


How many forms do you think I’ll need to fill out before this claim is completed? 

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?


6 thoughts on “Rentenversicherung? Isn’t that the musical with all the HIV stuff?

  1. Bunny

    I can relate. My mother was French, naturalized US in the 50s, and she worked in France for a number of years before moving here. She received a small monthly stipend from France that went through some bank in PA to be converted to the current exchange rate. It was about $90-$150, depending on the value of the dollar. After she died, there was a balance to which her estate was entitled, but I had to jump through many and varied hoops to finally receive it. I made numerous trips to the French Consul in Miami for assistance in communicating with the proper offices. In the meantime, they were still sending checks, even after I had informed them of her death, and I had a devil of a time returning them. The Consular office was extremely helpful, but I, too, kept receiving new forms in response to the ones I submitted. People think the US has a lot of red tape, but they should try dealing with EU bureaucracy!

    I ended up receiving a check for the balance due, but it was made out to my mother, not me. I was not allowed to cash it! Tried three banks. Then, another trip to Miami to see if it could be re-issued in my name. It was, ultimately, but it was at least two years from the time my mom died to the completion of what ought to have been a simple transaction. I’m tempted to believe they think if they make the transaction complicated enough, most people will finally give up even trying to deal with them and they get to keep the money. Cynical much? Moi?

    Good luck with your forms. Persevere, it will eventually pay off.


    1. The newly arrived form asks for information presented in the initial form, and also says basically that if I don’t reply by 20 December, they will assume I don’t really want it. Heh.


      1. Bunny

        Ha! Almost word for word what the French said to me. Be sure you send your reply via registered mail, or even via Fedex, so that they can’t say they didn’t receive it. That also happened to me in my dealings. That’s why I finally started visiting the Consulate. Good hunting!


  2. Robert

    Even better so – you got some (most?) of the answers already! 😉

    Registered delivery is also a very good advice – and always make sure to make copies of the stuff you’re sending.

    I wouldn’t guess on German bureaucracy – this may be the last form necessary or the first of 5 more, who knows… 😉

    But at least the hours you’re putting in, filling out the form(s), are quite well paid! 😉


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