Back home, and I still refer to the United States as home even having lived here for so long, many people worry about their 401K and the future. In European countries there is little need, since most have automatic pension plans for workers with contributions being taken straight out of their monthly wage packets.
In Germany the pensions authority is required to, and does, write to every single person who is entitled to receive a pension some time in the future to tell them what they are likely to receive when the time comes to retire. This annual event caused a close friend of mine, who has been working in Germany for over twenty years, to reconsider his position. The letter he received had two positions listed: what he will receive at 67, when he retires; what he will receive now if he is deemed incapable of working through illness or disability.
Photo Source: Keith Williamson – Creative Commons
Although he is still relatively young, and has worked his entire life, he is now placed in the position of having to seriously consider whether it is worth working. Not that he is seriously considering stopping, he enjoys his job too much and the pay is good, but the pensions authority seem to have made him an offer which is hard to refuse.
Under the present regulations, if he works to 67 he will receive a good pension which, coupled with his savings and a private pension plan, will allow him to live a life of relative ease. His house will be completely paid off in a few years and he will have no other major debts to consider. If, however, he becomes fully disabled this year and can no longer work, he will receive slightly more than if he works to pensionable age. A very strange offer indeed.
- Viktoria Michaelis.