Do you want to apply for an exemption from compulsory insurance under the statutory pension insurance scheme so that you can participate in the VwdA retirement pension scheme instead? The form is available in our Download centre. Discover the benefits of the VwdA and all you need to know here. Personal consultations are also available!
Members of the Schleswig-Holstein Chamber of Architects and Engineers or members who are employed in Schleswig-Holstein cannot apply for an exemption from the statutory pension insurance scheme because employees in this state are not compulsory members of the chamber.
Exemption can be granted retroactively if it is applied for within three months of the start of compulsory participation in the VwdA. In all other cases, it begins on the date on which the VwdA receives the application for exemption. The exemption applies to the relevant employment relationship. In principle, an exemption only applies for the duration of the compulsory membership in a professional chamber. A new application for exemption must be submitted by participants who change employer or who start working in a significantly different field.
Same contributions as in the statutory pension insurance scheme
VwdA participants pay the same contributions as participants in the statutory pension insurance scheme. In 2020, the rate of contribution is 18.6%, of which the employee and employer each pay half.
In professional pension schemes, members are generally responsible for ensuring that the compulsory contributions are paid. In the event of arrears, we are therefore required to contact our members (in some cases, we may have claims against third parties, such as employers).
In addition to the compulsory contribution, you can also make voluntary contributions. The total contribution must not, however, exceed double the maximum contribution. Please inform us as soon as possible if you are not earning any income subject to social insurance contributions in Germany for a specific period of time so that no contribution is set. During this period, you can still choose to make voluntary contributions. If you are receiving unemployment benefit I or sick pay, please inform the Federal Employment Agency or your health insurance provider that you are exempt from paying contributions to the statutory pension insurance scheme so that you can make contributions to the VwdA instead. The responsible institution will then contact us and may pay your contributions in full or in part.
Work in fields other than architecture
The exemption certificate generally only applies to professional activities in the field of architecture and the related employment relationship. Whenever you undertake work in a field away from this profession, you are generally required to make contributions to the statutory pension insurance scheme. In such cases, you can use the VwdA as a supplementary pension scheme. Or you can submit an application for exemption from participation or from contribution payments. If, due to its specific characteristics or a fixed-term contract (limited to a maximum of two years), the work away from the field of architecture follows a period of employment in a profession in the field of architecture, you can apply to have the exemption extended. This only applies to work in fields other than architecture which has been limited in time in advance.
Contributions are tax deductible
Just like contributions to the statutory pension insurance scheme, contributions paid to the VwdA are tax deductible. In turn, this increases your net income. There is, however, an annual limit, which in 2020 stands at €25,045.80 if you are single and at €50,091.60 if you are married. The proportion of contributions which is tax deductible has been rising gradually, from 60% in 2005 to 100% in 2025. (The German Retirement Income Act (Alterseinkünftegesetz) at a glance). The employer contribution is deducted from this. Make use of tax relief by planning for your future! And make sure you have all you need when you retire.
First pillar – two separate systems
Like the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund (the German statutory pension insurance scheme), the VwdA is part of the first pillar of statutory retirement pension provisions. However, these systems within the first pillar operate completely separately and independently from one another. This means that it is not possible to transfer contributions. Any pension claims from the statutory pension insurance scheme are independent of entitlements from the VwdA.
If you have not reached the general qualifying period of 60 months of contributions under the statutory pension insurance scheme, you have not fulfilled the criteria for entitlement to a pension from the statutory pension insurance scheme. In such cases, you can apply for a contribution refund. However, only the employee contributions will be refunded. Please contact the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund directly for more information on this.
Don’t forget that other subsequent contribution periods may count towards the qualifying period (e.g. parental leave or time spent working in another field). You can also choose to make voluntary supplementary payments to make up for the missing months. This is particularly worth considering if your payments only fall slightly short of the required 60 calendar months. If you have any questions about contribution refunds, please contact the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund directly.