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?

A Regensburg Morning

Editor’s note:  This post was inspired by the Daily Post’s one-word writing prompt:  Morning.

For almost three years, I woke up to the same set of sounds.  Morning in Regensburg was predictable, and my bedroom window looked over a fairly busy residential street just outside the city center.   Many students for the local university lived just a few buildings down the street.  With no air conditioning, I left the window cracked open almost every night.

Around 4:30 or 5:00 Am, the street sweeper would come by.   By 6, the garbage truck would roll past, and the pedestrians would start their commute,  hard soled shoes clicking on the sidewalk.

Some of the people would pull little wheeled suitcases behind them.  The rhythmic clack-clack-clack of their rubber wheels meeting the sidewalk seams became very soothing to me.  To this day, that sound makes me sleepy.

In winter, the sounds were basically the same, but the street sweeper would be a snow plow, and the footsteps would often be muffled by freshly fallen snow.

My sounds in the morning now are more muted.  The weather in South Florida is too hot, too humid to sleep comfortably with the window open.   We never have Winter here, and cool air is only felt two or three months out of the year.  It’s almost never cool enough to sleep with the window open.

My apartment now is far enough away from most traffic that I only hear a passing vehicle if it’s extremely large or has artificially amplified mufflers.  People do that in South Florida, making their tiny economical cars sound like angry racing dragons.  I don’t really understand the motivation.

It’s quieter, sure, but sometimes it’s a little too quiet.  I’ve taken to running a small fan in the room just to produce some white noise.  I think I sleep better here than I did there, because I don’t hear every street sweeper, every drunken student singing through the streets as they come back from the bars in the Altstadt at three in the morning.

I miss the rolling suitcases, though.

Do you sleep with your windows open?