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Parenting time in another EU country counts towards your pension

According to the ECJ, parenting periods in other EU countries can be taken into account in the pension even if they have not previously been paid into the German pension fund. Specifically, it was about a German woman who had lived in the Netherlands for a long time.

By Alena Lagmöller, ARD legal department

EU citizens enjoy freedom of movement – they have the right to move freely between member states. Working hours carried out in other EU countries are counted towards the domestic pension entitlement. But those who have raised children abroad sometimes have to fight for their periods to be counted towards their pension entitlement.

This is what happened to a woman from the German-Dutch border area: She sued the North Rhine-Westphalia State Social Court because the German pension insurance did not want to take into account her time raising children in the Netherlands. The plaintiff lived in the Netherlands near Aachen for many years. She completed her training as a cross-border commuter in Aachen, but was never subject to social security contributions. She had two children who she raised in the Netherlands and did not work during this time. It was only many years later that she moved to Germany and then paid into the pension fund for the first time.

No difference between education at home and abroad

When the woman became unable to work, the German pension insurance did not count the time spent raising children in the Netherlands towards her pension entitlement. The European Court of Justice sees it differently: For the credit to be taken into account, it depends on whether there is a “sufficient connection” between the time spent raising children abroad and the insurance time at home.

The ECJ has already developed this criterion in previous decisions. It has therefore been clear for some time that, in principle, periods spent raising children in other EU countries must also be taken into account when calculating pensions. What is new, however, is that there is a “sufficient connection” even if the person concerned did not pay any contributions to the pension insurance before raising children abroad.

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