New BGH ruling: savings for basic pension must be used before Hartz-IV

A basic pension, also known as a Rürup pension, must be terminated in the event of an emergency


Emergencies abound in a person’s life, such as when a welfare application is imminent. The question of whether a plaintiff is entitled to legal aid under the poor law is also assessed according to the same standards. This is governed by § 90 SGB XII, the regulations on the so-called Schonvermögen. Regularly 1600 Euro are saved for the single person (2600 Euro completion of the 60th year of life) plus 614 Euro for the spouse.


Slightly higher allowances for jobseekers’ assets

With Hartz-IV there is a basic allowance (§12 Abs. 2 No.1 SGB II) in the amount of regularly 150 Euro per year of life, at least 3,100 Euro, maximum 9,750 Euro for persons born before 1.1.1958. Riester contributions subsidised with allowances are also protected against realisation. For old-age provision, there is an additional old-age provision allowance (§ 12 Para. 2 No. 3 SGB II) amounting to 750 euros per year of life, if an exclusion of utilisation has been agreed with the insurance company offering the allowance. For persons born before 1.1.1958, these assets are limited to 48,750 euros. This corresponds to a private old-age pension of around 200 euros for a female pensioner from the age of 65.


Federal Court of Justice: 40% severe disability not yet a case of hardship for 50-year-olds

In principle the entire – also laboriously saved – fortune is to be used, clarifies the BGH (judgement of 09.06.2010, Az. XII ZB 120/08). The list of § 90 SGB XII – which does not list the basic pension as protected – is exhaustive. Whether a life insurance policy not mentioned therein was exceptionally spared depended on whether a realization would mean hardship in the individual case. Even if, in exceptional cases, it is uneconomical to terminate the policy, it is usually reasonable to lend on it, even if the interest then further reduces the value of the policy.


Capital accumulation via Rürup pension is only tolerated for the secure relief of social welfare

In principle, even a 50-year-old can build up sufficient pension entitlements for his old age, despite periods of unemployment and disability, in order not to become a burden on social assistance. Therefore, the BGH considered achieved pension entitlements of 348 Euros to be sufficient to realise all pension provision in excess of this. Only in exceptional cases, therefore, can the compulsory realisation of even the basic pension contract (possibly in part) be dispensed with if it can be proven that a dependency on social benefits can be demonstrated at retirement age.


Legal right of termination, even in the absence of a contractual termination option

Who applies for social welfare, ALG II and/or Hartz IV, or on poor law basis a process to lead would like, can be referred in principle to dissolve first once its capital life insurance including the capital saved up in basis pension contracts. Tax-free allowances or limits on discretionary assets regularly do not offer any protection against poverty in old age. However, the usual small pensions from Riester contracts remain untouched.


No Hartz IV security, despite limited garnishment protection for self-employed persons

Finally also the legislator with the reasoning to the law to the seizing-protected age precaution of independent ones, which must fulfill even still stricter conditions than a Rürupvertrag, expressly pointed out that this can be quit extraordinarily, if the social welfare administration rejects a resin IV requirement and refers to the utilization of this age precaution.


Endowment life insurance including Rürup pension contracts: Not Hartz IV-safe

In the case of claims that already exist elsewhere and that avoid the need for social assistance in old age, direct reference can be made to recovery. The insurer must then accept extraordinary termination, even if the ordinary right of termination is excluded, and pay out the surrender value. Although this was clearly stated by the legislator for Rüruprenten contracts, insurers and distributors stubbornly claimed exactly the opposite. The new judgement of the BGH exposes this as a sales fairy tale, as already before the Rürüp lie to the alleged seizing security of the basis pension capital.


Insurer must pay out surrender value of the basic pension contract for Hartz-IV

The surrender value of the basic annuity contract is to be paid out by the insurer in the event of extraordinary termination for recovery due to Harz iv. The clear legal situation is also not opposed to the fact that the Rürup saver is not entitled to a payout of a surrender value in the event of ordinary termination. How the surrender value is determined is set out in the German Insurance Contract Act (Versicherungsvertragsgesetz)


§ 169 VVG – Surrender value

(1) If an insurance policy which provides insurance cover for a risk where the occurrence of the insurer’s obligation is certain is cancelled by cancellation on the part of the policyholder or by withdrawal or challenge by the insurer, the insurer must pay the surrender value.


(2) The surrender value shall be paid only to the extent that it does not exceed the benefit payable in the event of an insured event at the time of termination. The portion of the surrender value not paid thereafter shall be used for premium-free insurance. In the event of withdrawal or rescission, the full surrender value must be paid.


(3) The surrender value is the actuarial reserve of the insurance policy calculated in accordance with recognised actuarial rules using the calculation bases of the premium calculation at the end of the current insurance period


It is therefore not true what the insurers claim in the alternative that there is no surrender value at all for Rüruprenten contracts. Rather, it is always calculated from the accumulated actuarial reserve. It is only not payable in the event of ordinary termination because no death benefit is agreed at the time of termination. Nevertheless, it is present in the accumulation period because it is used to determine the non-contributory pension as a “premium-free insurance”. However, the surrender value must then actually be paid out in the event of withdrawal or rescission, as well as in the event of extraordinary termination in accordance with § 314 BGB – e.g. because the employment agency does not provide benefits in accordance with ALG II or Harz IV due to the crediting of the saved assets. As wanted by the legislator and confirmed by the BGH again clearly: The Rürupvertrag is not Hartz IV safe.


by Dr. Johannes Fiala and Dipl.-Math. Peter A. Schramm


courtesy of (published on 11.10.2010)

and (published in Die Tabakzeitung 31.12.2010)


Our office in Munich

You will find our office at Fasolt-Strasse 7 in Munich, very close to Schloss Nymphenburg. Our team consists of highly motivated attorneys who are available for all the needs of our clients. In special cases, our law firm cooperates with selected experts to represent your interests in the best possible way.

About the author

Dr. Johannes Fiala Dr. Johannes Fiala

Dr. Johannes Fiala has been working for more than 25 years as a lawyer and attorney with his own law firm in Munich. He is intensively involved in real estate, financial law, tax and insurance law. The numerous stages of his professional career enable him to provide his clients with comprehensive advice and to act as a lawyer in the event of disputes.
»More about Dr. Johannes Fiala

On these pages, Dr. Fiala provides information on current legal and economic topics as well as on current political changes that are of social and/or corporate relevance.

Arrange your personal appointment with us.

Make an appointment / call back service

You are already receiving legal advice and would like a second opinion? In this case please contact Dr. Fiala directly via the following link.

Obtain a second legal opinion

The first telephone call about your request is free of charge.