In the case of old-age pensions in the Netherlands, a distinction must be made between the legal old-age pension and occupational pensions (Bedrijfspensioenfonds). Both are linked to completely different, separable eligibility conditions and financing systems.
Legal old-age pension (AOW)
Students and young professionals from Germany can also build up entitlements under the legal old-age pension (Algemene Ouderdomswet, or AOW). It is a national insurance scheme. This means that it also provides benefits for those who are not employees. The decisive factor is the status as a resident of the Netherlands. This is because residents of the Netherlands are compulsorily insured under the national insurance schemes, regardless of their nationality. However, students are only entitled to AOW pension if they take up sole residence in the Netherlands.
Residing or remaining
In principle, German students can keep their residence in Germany even if they are staying in the Netherlands to study. Of course, they must then also register in the respective Dutch municipality and state that they are only staying in the Netherlands for study purposes (see below). However, the Netherlands does not recognise a “secondary residence”. If you are only staying in the Netherlands for the purpose of studying, you are not subject to Dutch social security (volksverzekering). This means that you cannot receive an AOW (old-age pension) or take out health insurance.
If you have a part-time job in the Netherlands in addition to your studies, you are subject to Dutch social security, regardless of how many hours you work per week. This means that you will receive an AOW pension and will also have to take out health insurance in the Netherlands. You will then be considered a cross-border worker and will be subject to the same rules as someone who lives in Germany and works in the Netherlands. You can read more about this here.
Once AOW pension rights have been accrued, students may also be eligible for voluntary continued insurance after they have finished their studies in the Netherlands. This must be applied for within one year after the conditions for compulsory insurance have ceased to apply. A cost-benefit analysis should be carried out beforehand.
How does the AOW pension work?
AOW pension is paid from the age of 67 (as of 2019); early retirements are not possible. The amount is not based on an income level, but on the number of years someone has spent working and/or living in the Netherlands between the ages of 17 and 67, is subject to income tax. For each relevant year, 2% AOW pension is accrued. The full rate of 100% will therefore be paid to anyone who has worked and/or lived in the Netherlands for the full period from the age of 17 to 67 (50 years) and is subject to income tax.
If you work in the Netherlands, you will get an occupational pension in addition to your AOW pension. If you have a small part-time job, you will get no or a very small occupational pension.