Bridging the gap: Occupational disability insurance

Country news: Germany

June 2024

Bridging the gap: The importance of occupational disability insurance in the global benefits landscape

In today's rapidly evolving global business environment, the integration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) considerations into corporate benefits strategies has become increasingly critical. As multinational clients seek to harmonize their policies across various countries, it has become apparent that disability benefits, particularly in the German subsidiaries of many organizations, are not as prevalent as in other European countries. 

This article delves into the significance of occupational disability insurance and the implications of its availability or absence within the global benefits landscape. 

German statutory disability pension: eligibility and benefits

If an employee suffers an illness or injury and cannot do their current job to at least 50% capacity for a foreseeable period of at least six months, that is known as occupational disability.

The German statutory "Erwerbsminderungsrente" or disability pension provides essential support for individuals who can no longer work permanently due to an accident or a serious illness. The eligibility criteria for this pension are stringent, requiring individuals to work less than six hours a day, have contributed to the statutory pension insurance for at least five years, and have paid compulsory contributions for at least three years in the last five years before the onset of reduced earning capacity. 

The pension amount is determined by the extent of disability, offering full or partial benefits based on the individual's capacity to work. Full "Erwerbsminderungsrente" is granted if the individual is unable to work for more than three hours daily due to health reasons. Those capable of working three to six hours are eligible for half the "Erwerbsminderungsrente," as they are expected to seek part-time employment, regardless of their previous profession. In cases where finding part-time work is hindered by labor market conditions, full "Erwerbsminderungsrente" can be applied for.

Challenges and gaps in the "Erwerbsminderungsrente"

While the statutory disability pension in Germany offers a safety net, it has inherent limitations. Notably, individuals may be referred to any occupation, regardless of their previous vocational training or expertise, leading to potential mismatches between their skills and the job offered. 

Additionally, government coverage rarely matches the individual's financial needs , especially when it comes to covering regular expenses such as rent, bills, and household costs. Additionally, the stringent eligibility criteria pose further limitations to accessing the “Erwerbsminderungsrente”.

The role of occupational disability insurance

Recognizing the gaps in state-provided disability benefits, the importance of occupational disability insurance (also known as income protection insurance), such as the Gothaer Premium Occupational Disability Insurance, becomes evident. 

The occupational disability pension is paid when the insured person is no longer able to work in their practiced or learned occupation, irrespective of health reasons, without reference to alternative activities offered by the labor market. Additionally, occupational disability insurance through the employer offers improved terms and conditions, with application acceptance without a medical examination, a straightforward application process via a list, and only requiring an employer's signature. These conditions are generally unavailable through private customer business. Consequently, both the state and the German "Stiftung Warentest" (Berufsunfähigkeitsversicherung im Vergleich, May 15, 2024) recommend that every working person should acquire private or, preferably, occupational disability insurance, as the state's coverage in this area is insufficient. Such recommendations are regularly included in the annual pension reports received by all eligible individuals in Germany.

The occupational disability pension provides a safety net for individuals, offering a regular monthly payout in the event of occupational disability, ensuring that individuals can maintain their financial stability and cover their essential expenses. 

Gothaer Premium Occupational Disability Insurance: Key features

Gothaer’s Premium Occupational Disability Insurance offers several key features and flexible options tailored to individuals' specific needs and life events. These include flexible adjustment based on certain life events such as marriage or career changes, the ability to increase the coverage amount without indicating a reason within the initial years of coverage, and the option to adapt the insured occupational disability pension to changes in income, ensuring that individuals can align their coverage with their evolving career trajectories. 

Additionally, the insurance offers benefits such as interest-free deferment, betterment options for lower premiums with career changes, and extensions to account for changes in the state pension age. 

Importantly, the insurance provides coverage without limitations on the type of work individuals are obligated to perform, offering financial protection that aligns with their specific occupation and skills. 

Gothaer Premium Occupational Disability Insurance: How it can benefit your employees:

  • Employees are under no obligation to work in a different field (no abstract referrals).
  • Starter option: Employees can begin with a low rate and full cover. 
  • Optional payout when taking sick leave (with a sick note): Payout for up to 36 months – and it already kicks in when the employee has been ill for four months plus a foreseeable two further months without interruption. 
  • Instant support in case of cancer: Employees immediately receive the agreed payout for 18 months. 
  • Bridging payout: If an employee requires a medical opinion to determine their occupational disability, Gothaer pays the agreed amount for up to five months.
  • Incapacity due to infections for all professions: Employees are even covered if they cannot do their job to at least 50% capacity due to the risk of infection. 

Addressing critical needs and emerging risks

In today's dynamic work environment, where unforeseen circumstances such as illness or injury can significantly impact individuals' capacity to work, occupational disability insurance can offer a vital safety net. With features such as optional payouts during sick leave, immediate support in case of critical illnesses like cancer, and coverage for incapacitation due to infections, the insurance addresses critical needs and emerging risks, providing individuals with comprehensive protection.

As multinational clients seek to align their benefits strategies across various countries, the availability of occupational disability insurance becomes a key consideration. By integrating this benefit into their global benefits frameworks, organizations can ensure that their employees, including those in German subsidiaries, have access to comprehensive and tailored protection that aligns with their specific occupational needs and financial requirements. 

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Learn more about the advantages of partnering with Gothaer Lebensversicherung AG, view their key figures, recent awards and recognitions and get in touch with the local IGP contact.

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