More people in Germany are working past retirement age

More people in Germany are working past retirement age

In the past three years, Germany has registered a sharp increase in the number of people between the ages of 63 and 67 who are in work. The Left Party cite pensioner poverty as the main motivation.

Workers in Germany are retiring later than before

According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) more people in Germany are choosing to delay their retirement

The retirement age in Germany is currently 66 years, and it is possible to go into early retirement at 63 years old. But between 2020 and 2023, the number of people aged between 63 and 67 who were still in work rose from 1,31 million to 1,67 million, amounting to a 26,2 percent increase. The Destatis figures have been spotlit thanks to a question posed by the Left Party on the Bundestag floor.

Bundestag politicians continue to fight over early retirement rules

While the standard retirement age in Germany is 66, since 2014 it has been possible for workers to retire early with permanent deductions if they have made pension contributions for a minimum of 35 years, or after 45 years of contributions in order to retire without deductions.

This policy, commonly referred to as “Rente mit 63” (Retirement at 63), is much disputed, with the CDU / CSU, Greens, FDP and employer organisations citing it as a contributor to the worker shortage and “brain drain” of older workers into retirement.

However, with the Destatis figures now revealing that the number of workers delaying retirement has significantly increased in recent years, the Left Party is arguing that criticisms should move away from the Rente mit 63 policy and towards the possible shortcomings of the pension payment system.

Pensioner poverty is keeping people in work, say Left Party

According to Matthias Birkwald, a Left Party Bundestag member who focuses on pension policy, Germany’s pension payments are no longer enough to keep retired people afloat. 

With around half of the over-65s in Germany receiving a net income of only 1.250 euros per month and the pressures of inflation ongoing, the struggle to make ends meet is pushing people of retirement age back into work or keeping them there. 

There are other clues that Germany’s current pension packet doch hinten und vorne nicht reicht (doesn’t cut it). Between 2022 and 2023 the number of retirees who had to claim basic security benefits (Grundsicherung) to top up their pension rose by 10 percent

Speaking to IamExpat, Germany’s social welfare association the VdK, pointed out that it is not just a weak pension system which was to blame, but also a lack of secure working conditions. “A poverty-proof minimum wage of at least 14 euros per hour, more collective bargaining agreements among companies and work contracts which are tied to social security contributions rather than mini-jobs and freelance work. This is the only way to really combat poverty in old age,” the organisation said.

Which direction the Ampel coalition chooses to go in will be revealed in the coming weeks, as Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) announces his much-awaited pension reforms.

Thumb image credit: PakulinSergei /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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