WAccording to the traffic light government, if you decide to become self-employed, you should be able to opt out of the statutory pension insurance (GRV) and switch to a private pension product. That's what the coalition agreement says. The first choice for liberal professions such as tax consultants, auditors, notaries and lawyers is membership in one of the professional pension schemes.
Their future will be discussed on Wednesday at the German Lawyers' Day in Bonn fiercely debated: The specialist department for labor and social law, chaired by Rainer Schlegel, President of the Federal Social Court (BSG), deals with the competing relationship between pension insurance, civil service pensions and pension schemes in the first pillar of old-age provision.
Nervousness is growing among the self-employed. Because Schlegel, the highest social judge in the republic, has positioned himself in advance. He calls for an end to exemptions. The self-employed, civil servants and judges should pay into the GRV. "Everyone has to make a contribution to stabilizing the old-age pension system, not just the dependent employees, by being expected to retire later," writes the BSG President in the current issue of the "New Journal for Social Law".
His word could have immense weight for the decision recommendation next Friday. On the other hand, one of the experts, the Münster law professor Heinz-Dietrich Steinmeyer, is clearly in favor of keeping the professional pension schemes and the pension scheme for civil servants.
"It is clear to everyone involved that you have to look at the self-employed, who are only partially subject to pension insurance," says Martin Schafhausen, Vice President of the German Lawyers' Association (DAV). However, there is sufficient protection for freelancers with pension schemes. Schafhausen wants to prevent a further inclusion of the self-employed or even the ousting of the pension funds from the first pillar. "The legislature must recognize that there have been functioning systems for many years, for example with doctors or lawyers, which are an expression of the freedom of the profession." "There are enough colleagues who are asking themselves: What will happen to my old-age provision?" Therefore, everything will be done to ensure that the thesis of the expert Steinmeyer is reflected in the decision.
Schlegel does not question the existence of professional pension schemes. In his essay, however, he suggests including their previous members with a contribution assessment limit in the statutory pension insurance. As a goal, he names up to 20 percent above the basic security level. This also protects the general public from a lack of self-sufficiency on the part of individual self-employed people.
Lack of solidarity?
Schafhausen, in turn, defends itself against the accusation that the liberal professions lack solidarity. "Without participating in the GRV, we finance an immense state subsidy through our taxes, which flows into the GRV," emphasizes the DAV Vice President. He thinks that the GRV can hardly make a real plus with the contributions of the freelancers anyway. "In terms of performance, we are a bad risk because we are getting older and receiving benefits for longer," says the social law expert at Plagemann Rechtsanwälte.
Peter Klotzki, General Manager of the Federal Association of Liberal Professions, is also skeptical. He considers the effect of including the professional pension schemes in the statutory pension insurance to be manageable. "We will probably reach a temporary peak in self-employment in the freelance professions." Within 20 years, the number has almost doubled to 1.47 million in Germany. More than a third of all self-employed are freelancers. In some occupational groups, however, a first decline can be felt.
Klotzki describes the effect of including the professional pension schemes in the statutory pension insurance as short-sighted. “We firmly reject this, including the theming that was thrown off the fence. We are irritated by the timing of the debate now planned by Mr. Schlegel, after the coalition agreement has stabilized the professional pension schemes."
Schafhausen thinks that the GRV can hardly make a real plus with the contributions of the freelancers anyway. "In terms of performance, we are a bad risk because we are getting older," says the social lawyer from Frankfurt. "And so we get benefits for longer."