Disability: You need to know that now

Endangered professions

 Endangered professions

Some occupations are at particular risk of being affected by occupational disability. These include roofers, nurses and construction workers, who are particularly at risk due to their activities or generally physically difficult work and therefore have to reckon with health problems.

But also social workers are at an increased risk of becoming incapacitated because they are also required in their everyday life mentally strong. On the other hand, the risk is low for doctors, engineers and, in general, for people who mainly work at the desk. Bricklayers and painters work with a high disability risk of about 50 percent, while pharmacists and doctors are very low at around 6 percent. For example, tax advisors and teachers are in the midfield.

By now, mental illnesses of more than 30 percent are by far the most common cause of occupational disability, followed by musculoskeletal disorders, usually back problems. By contrast, accidents only account for less than 10 percent.

Differences: occupational disability, incapacity for work, disability

 Differences: occupational disability, incapacity for work, disability

If you inform yourself about disability, you have to struggle with many different terms. In order to be able to better assign and understand these, we give below explanations of the individual terms.


The distinction is the occupational disability of the disability: Disability means that a person can no longer work in their learned profession, but in principle could pursue other activities. Anyone who is unable to work can no longer do any gainful employment at all.

For example, a mason can no longer practice his job after a herniated disc. However, he could work as a salesman in a hardware store and is therefore not disabled. Both occupational disability and disability must be confirmed by a doctor.

incapacity for work

On the other hand, inability to work means simply that you can not work at the moment, which also applies in the case of a three-day cold. For longer illnesses, you receive a continued salary payment from your employer for six weeks, after which you are entitled to sickness benefit, which is paid by the health insurance fund.

Application for disability pension

 Application for disability pension

If you become incapacitated, you must first apply for a disability pension from Deutsche Rentenversicherung. If you have an occupational disability insurance, the insurance provider must of course also be informed.

The occupational disability must be confirmed by a doctor. He also indicates to what extent this is the case. If you reduce your work ability by 50 percent, you are entitled to a statutory pension. Include copies of all potentially relevant documents directly with the application.

Above all, reports from your treating physicians and a detailed description of your professional activity are important in order to assess to what extent you are unfit for work and whether you are entitled to state pension payments.

State benefits

 State benefits

Until 2001, there was a statutory disability pension still available to workers born before 2 January 1961. It amounts to two thirds of the disability pension. For later births, there is only the state disability pension. Persons who are only able to work for a maximum of three hours a day are fully entitled.

However, they receive only 30 percent of their previous gross salary. In the case of a possible work performance of three to six hours, a partial reduction in earning capacity exists; in this case, those affected receive only 15 percent of the previously paid gross salary as a reduced earning capacity pension.

This means that as long as there is one activity that you can do for six hours a day, you will not receive a disability pension. Anyone who has been paid into the statutory pension fund for less than five years as a novice will not receive this pension, and the same applies to the self-employed.

Because of these low state benefits, many workers decide to take out occupational disability insurance. If this is not the case, the only thing left to do is to secure state basic security and the standard of living must be significantly reduced.

Permitted sideline activities

 Permitted sideline activities

Even if you receive a disability pension, you can still pursue some activities and earn money up to a certain limit. At full loss of earning you can earn up to 450 euros per month and do a mini job. Also municipal honorary offices with expense allowance or the work in a handicapped workshop are possible.

Provision: Occupational disability insurance

 Provision: Occupational disability insurance

For all people who are not covered by substantial reserves or their families, disability means a deep cut and huge financial problems. With occupational disability insurance, you can take precautions and secure yourself on time. Although this policy is basically just as important as liability insurance, out of 42 million people in Germany, only 17 million have one.

Benefits of disability insurance

The insurance will pay you a contractually agreed monthly pension regardless of your previous salary in the event of incapacity for work of at least 50 per cent. It takes effect as soon as you are unable to work and not only when you are unable to work. So you are not forced to work in another job that you can still do despite your inability to work.

Who should complete it?

Occupational disability insurance makes sense for everyone who earns a living through gainful employment. Especially if you were born after January 1, 1961, and you only receive the disability pension, you should complete one.

But it is also particularly important for young professionals or the self-employed because they have only recently or not at all paid into the statutory pension insurance. Housewives can also take out such insurance because they would have to hire a maid and possibly a nanny if they could no longer perform their job.

Insurance for civil servants must meet special criteria, so they need a so-called invalidity insurance.

Cost of disability insurance

This question can not be answered on a flat-rate basis because the amount of contributions depends on many factors. Your entry age and your current state of health are decisive, as well as your professional activity and the desired amount of the monthly pension.

If you are aiming for a monthly pension of 1,500 euros in the event of disability and you complete the insurance at the age of 35, you have to pay around 240 euros per month as a bricklayer, but only just under 60 euros as an office clerk .

Provide as early as possible

It is advisable to take out occupational disability insurance as soon as possible, ideally in the case of entry into working life or earlier. Even young people can become disabled and are then not protected. In addition, previous illnesses mean that you have to pay higher contributions or, in the worst case, not even receive a policy. The healthier you are at the end, the cheaper the terms.

Take the health examination seriously

Before you take out the insurance, you must complete the health check – a form in which you list any pre-existing conditions. For chronic illnesses, allergies or psychotherapy over the past five years, chances are you will not get a policy.

Nevertheless, you should answer the questions accurately and truthfully: the insurance can inspect your medical records and refuse to pay a pension if you have concealed previous illnesses. In case of doubt, consult your doctor when filling out.

Do not apply pension too low

Especially if you take the insurance early, there is a risk that you set the agreed pension too low. Your financial needs are still low and you can not estimate the costs of starting a business or buying a property yet. As a first orientation, you can list your monthly expenses. This sum is the absolute minimum that you should agree with the insurance.

Post-insurance right and dynamization

If you do not want to commit early to a pension, you can choose to make contributions more dynamic. As you do so, you gradually pay higher contributions, increasing your potential pension. The reinsurance legislation gives you the opportunity to adjust your contributions later as needed to address specific events that may require a higher pension, such as a marriage or the birth of a child.

Legal expenses insurance can protect against unpleasant surprises

Even if you have insurance, it is not always guaranteed that you will be protected in case of emergency. You may be in doubt as to whether you are actually 50 percent disabled and the insurer will refuse to pay. In the case of legal proceedings, legal expenses insurance covers the legal fees.

Ideally, you would take out the legal expenses insurance three months before the disability insurance and with another provider. This ensures that the legal expenses insurance in case of dispute in your interest and not in that of the insurance group.

Refusal reasons and achievement quotas

Of the applications submitted, around 30 percent are rejected. The reasons are usually that the customers no longer report or that there is no occupational disability of at least 50 percent. The performance rates of insurers are very different: they are between 30 and 90 percent, so that a comparison and detailed information in advance is worthwhile.

Alternatives to occupational disability insurance


If you have a high-risk job or are not receiving occupational disability insurance because of pre-existing conditions, you can look for an alternative.

The following insurances are available in this case:

Disability Insurance
The contributions are below those of the disability insurance, but you are – as with the disability pension – protected only if you become disabled.

Dread disease insurance
Here you will receive a one-time payment and no monthly pension. This insurance is taken out against certain serious illnesses such as cancer. You will only receive the payment if your illness is on the list. Mental suffering is not one of them.

Multi-risk insurance
If you become disabled, you will receive a monthly pension. The contributions are lower than in the occupational disability insurance, but here too mental illnesses are not covered. The special thing about this insurance is that it deals with the particular risks of your industry and that you are insured for these cases.

Basic ability insurance
This insurance pays you a monthly pension if you lose certain defined basic skills such as seeing, speaking or walking.


View abroad: occupational disability in the USA

 View abroad: occupational disability in the USA

Compared with the US, it is also evident that about 25 percent of the workforce there is also unable to work. However, there are reasons for this with nearly 30 percent disorders and disabilities of the musculoskeletal system, 15 percent cancer and 10 percent accidents. Mental illness, which is most common in Germany, is less than 9 percent.

State security in the US is comparable to the German earning capacity pension: It is paid only to people who have worked long enough in employment subject to social security contributions and who are unable to work at all. The most common form of individual coverage in the US is Dread Disease Insurance, which does not cover mental illness.

It is therefore obvious that the proportion is so low because disabled people there often continue to work with mental health problems such as the burnout syndrome because they have no other choice due to the lack of protection.