TN 4 (07-96)

GN 01707.137 Exhibit of Factsheet “New German Benefits for Jews from Eastern Europe”

 

Social Security

NEW GERMAN BENEFITS FOR JEWS FROM EASTERN EUROPE

The United States and Germany have concluded a new Social Security agreement that permits certain Jews who left Eastern Europe and settled in the United States to make voluntary contributions to the German Social Security system. Making voluntary contributions can help a person qualify for German Social Security benefits or increase the amount of a benefit already being paid.

NOTE: The provisions of German law that govern the payment of voluntary contributions are very complex. For this reason, the U.S. Social Security Administration cannot give advice about paying voluntary contributions. As explained below, you must contact the German authorities to get more information.

 

Background

U.S.-German Social Security Agreement

In 1979, the United States and Germany concluded a Social Security Agreement that helps improve benefit protection for people who have earned Social Security credits in both countries. Recently, the two governments concluded a supplementary agreement that makes several changes in the original 1979 agreement. The most important change gives certain Jews from Eastern Europe who now resides in the United States new benefit rights under Germany's Foreign Pensions Law (“Fremdrentengesetz”).

 

German Foreign Pensions Law

The Foreign Pensions Law (FPL) was enacted in 1960 to help people of German ancestry who had lived in various areas outside Germany (primarily in Eastern Europe), and who were forced to flee their homelands due to adverse political conditions. Under the FPL, Germany will count the social security credits these ethnic Germans earned in their former homelands in determining eligibility for German Social Security benefits.

To qualify for FPL credits, the persons concerned must generally prove that they had acknowledged themselves to be ethnic Germans before leaving their former homelands. However, many Jews from Eastern Europe who were ethnically German and who lived in areas that came under the influence of the German Nazi regime during the 1930's and 1940's did not acknowledge themselves as German. An amendment to the FPL that became effective July 1, 1990, makes it possible for these Jews from Eastern Europe to also receive FPL credits even though they did not acknowledge that they were German.

 

Restrictions 

Until now, many U.S. residents have been unable to take advantage of the 1990 amendments to the FPL. This is because German law generally prevents a person who is outside of Germany from receiving a benefit based on FPL credits unless the person actually contributed to the German Social Security system at some point. Even if a person has made some German contributions, the number of FPL credits that can be counted may be limited to the number of contributions that were actually paid. Since many U.S. residents who qualify for FPL credits based on the 1990 amendment have never contributed to the German system, they couldn't receive a benefit based on the FPL credits. Others who have contributed, did so for only a short time and receive a small benefit because not all of their FPL credits could be counted.

 

How the new agreement helps U.S. residents

Under the new supplementary agreement, which became effective May 1, 1996, U.S. residents who qualify for FPL credits based on the 1990 amendment can make voluntary contributions to the German system. Paying voluntary contributions makes it possible for them to receive German benefits based on their FPL credits. Frequently, these benefits can be paid as far back as July 1, 1990.

The number of months for which voluntary contributions can be paid is limited and the contributions must be paid in the amount of 84.48 Deutsche Marks for each calendar month of contributions. There will be no actual cost for most people, however, since the contributions can be deducted from back benefits. In almost all cases, the back benefits will exceed the required contributions.

If you do not qualify for FPL credits, or if you already receive a benefit based on all your FPL credits, the supplementary agreement does not affect your German pension rights.

 

Who is eligible

To be eligible to make the voluntary contributions, you must be a U.S. or German citizen (or a refugee or stateless person) and must have become a U.S. resident before July 1, 1990. In addition, you must be Jewish and of ethnic German origin as determined by the German authorities. (Claimants are generally required to show that they spoke German.) You must also have reached age 16 before the date Nazi influence first reached your former homeland. This date is determined under German law and varies depending on the area. As a general rule, however, anyone born after September 1, 1925, will not be eligible to make voluntary contributions.

 

How to apply to make voluntary contributions

If you want to apply to make voluntary contributions, or just want more information, you must contact the G