Texts and links


The information compiled here on insurance is partially of interest for dancers (Bayerische Versorgungskammer) who are employed at German city theaters. All other information is only of interest for those who want to become self-employed or are already self-employed.

Bayerische Versorgungskammer

Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Bühnen

The Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Bühnen is a compulsory occupational pension scheme. Its task is to provide additional retirement, disability and survivors’ benefits for stage employees working in German theaters by way of compulsory insurance.

The Versorgungsanstalt offers the following options for dancers who give up the stage profession: claiming a so-called dancer’s severance payment, continued insurance or partial claiming of a dancer’s severance payment coupled with continued insurance with the Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Bühnen.

Special rule for dancers

The special rule for dancers’ compensation applies to performing dancers, including solo, group and musical dancers.

A severance payment can be claimed if the dancer gives up the stage profession globally by the end of the season in which they reach the age of 44 at the latest and can provide credible evidence of retraining, further training or starting a business. In addition, contributions must have been paid for at least 60 months and no pension benefits (retirement benefits due to occupational disability or incapacity to work) may have been claimed.

Dance group members who were already compulsorily insured before 2011 can still claim the severance payment under the old special regulation if they have definitively given up the stage profession in the institutional sector by the end of the season in which they reach the age of 40, but no later than August 31, 2016. The application for severance pay must be submitted by the time they reach the age of 42.

The severance payment is only paid out once and upon application. All contributions paid in, including the employer’s contributions, are paid as a settlement. In addition, the dancers receive interest of 4% per year for contributions paid up to 2005, 3.25% per year for contributions paid from 2006 to 2010 inclusive, 2% per year for contributions paid from 2011 onwards and 0.9% for contributions paid from 2021 onwards. For contributions paid from 2011 onwards, the value of any accrued benefits decided by the Board of Directors by way of surplus distribution is also reimbursed.

After claiming the full settlement, all entitlements to a pension from the Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Bühnen expire.

Dancers subject to compulsory contributions are entitled to a temporary pension due to occupational disability if the occupational disability occurred before the age of 35 and the dancer has paid contributions for 36 months or the insured event is due to an accident at work. A dancer’s severance payment is then excluded. However, the entitlements to retirement and survivors’ benefits remain fully intact.

Instead of the dancer’s severance payment, there is always an entitlement to a retirement pension due to incapacity to work, subject to other conditions.

The special regulation for the dancer’s severance payment does not apply if the dancer is insured by a theater after the end of the season in which he or she reaches the age of 44. In this case, only the general provisions of the Articles of Association shall apply.


Option of continued insurance

Instead of claiming a severance payment, a dancer can alternatively take out continued insurance after leaving the stage profession. The advantage of continued insurance is that the waiting period for the retirement pension may be reached and an entitlement to a retirement pension, flexible retirement pension or surviving dependants’ pension may arise.

Without continued insurance, the insurance is continued as non-contributory insurance. No insurance periods are accrued during the non-contributory insurance and there is no insurance cover in the event of occupational disability or incapacity for work. In addition, the pension entitlement does not increase.

Continued insurance is permitted immediately following employment at a theater, payment of a pension due to occupational disability or incapacity for work or the cessation of incapacity for work if insurance subject to contributions existed immediately prior to the occurrence of the latter.

It is excluded in the event of disability or occupational incapacity as long as a pension is paid by the Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Bühnen.

Continued insurance must be declared in writing within one year of the end of employment at the theater or the occurrence of the other conditions. The basic contribution is EUR 12.50 per month and is due on the first day of each month. Alternatively, a supplementary contribution up to the maximum contribution (16% of the contribution assessment ceiling for general pension insurance) can be paid in addition to the basic contribution.

A one-off partial settlement is also possible, in which the insurance continues in the amount of the remaining entitlements.

Detailed information on dancer’s compensation, continued insurance and non-contributory insurance can be found – also in English – at



What are the prerequisites for joining the KSK?

Since 1983, self-employed artists and writers are included in mandatory social insurance via the Künstlersozialversicherung (KSK). The unique character: artists and writers only have to cover half of their premiums and thus have a status similar to regular employees. The other half of the premiums is covered by dues paid by art and publishing businesses (e.g., galleries, music schools, theaters, radio stations, advertising agencies, publishers), and financed by a federal subsidy.
Prerequisites: One must perform a self-employed activity in art or writing as an occupation (for the purpose of making a living). The notion of art is oriented towards typical careers. In borderline cases, the character of being an artist depends on whether the artist is considered to be such among relevant experts (identifiable, for example, in the membership in an art career association or mention in the press).
If the activity in the art/writing field is only part-time, then the KSK can only be applied to a limited degree or not at all.
Work income (income minus costs) must lie above the minimum limit of 325  monthly/ 3,900  a year.
Exceptions: In the first three years of a career, work income can be less. Also, occasional drops below the minimum amount (twice within a six-year period) do not end the coverage. A maximum of one person can be employed. Otherwise, the artist or writer would be in a position of an employer, and he or she would no longer require protection.
Insurance coverage with the KSK: The KSK is a part of mandatory social insurance and includes the fields of pension insurance, health insurance and nursing care insurance. The entire mandatory catalogue of services applies. What many artists or writers don’t know: as a self-employed person one can apply for sick pay, either after a six-week “waiting period” (normal case) or already after a two-week “waiting period” (so-called early sick pay, when applied for and for a higher premium).
Premiums: Insurance premiums are calculated from work income and from half of the premiums of the various insurance types as well as the mandatory additional premiums. At present, the premiums are at a level of 18-19% of net income. The premiums must be paid on a monthly basis.
Example: For a yearly income (net) of 12,000  (1,000 per month), approximately 180  to 190  per month would have to be calculated as a premium.
Joining the KSK: Application forms can be ordered at the Künstlersozialkasse (KSK).
When turning in the forms, don’t forget to add the proof of activity (e.g., contracts, documents showing work performed, critiques, press). After the application has been turned in, the KSK determines whether the requirements of the KSK have been fulfilled. If all prerequisites are fulfilled, then the KSK legally determines the necessity of participation; the artists’ social insurance is a mandatory insurance! It registers you at a mandatory health insurance (e.g., AOK, Ersatzkasse, guild health insurance, company health insurance – one can remain at one’s previous health insurance) and pension insurance, and passes the premiums on to them. The artist/ writer informs the KSK, what level of premiums must be paid. To determine premiums, the KSK requests an “estimated annual work income” at registration and then annually.
What happens if you fail to register with the KSK?
Those who do not register with the KSK thus give away advantages that he or she are legally entitled to. In any case, the insurance begins with the first registration with the KSK, at the earliest. For the time period before the first registration with the KSK, no insurance coverage can be granted after the fact, and no premiums must be paid to the KSK.
Can KSK membership be suspended for a few months in the case of employment?
Unfortunately, this is not intended in the KSK. For every employment with social insurance from the employer, no matter how short, you have to leave the KSK and then join it again. For periods under six months, this is possible without filling out forms; in the case of longer employment, one must fill out all registration forms again.
Can you insure yourself privately?
Career beginners and higher earners have the possibility to exempt themselves from the mandatory insurance in order to join private health/nursing insurance. The KSK then offers a contribution. An exemption is not possible for pension insurance; mandatory insurance is necessary here.
Contact: Tel. 04421/ 973 405 1500; e-mail:

Insurance for self-employed artists

Voluntary continued insurance within unemployment insurance

Since February 1st 2006, the Agentur für Arbeit has been offering a voluntary continued insurance within unemployment insurance. Those who work at least 15 hours a week in self-employment and live and work in a foreign country outside of the EU or in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland qualify to voluntarily continue their unemployment insurance. The period of voluntary insurance can be used later for a qualification for unemployment benefits.

PREREQUISITE: The insured person was subject to social insurance contributions for 12 months of the last two years or received unemployment benefits.

NEW REGULATIONS: Since June 1st 2006, the self-employed and those regularly employed in non-EU foreign countries can only then be included in the voluntary unemployment insurance if they began their activities after January 1st 2004.
The application for voluntary unemployment insurance must be turned in within one month of beginning self-employment.
JURISDICTION: Voluntary insurance can be applied for at a local office of the Agentur für Arbeit. The required forms are available there. Those who work in foreign countries must apply at the Agentur für Arbeit from his or her last place of residency. Voluntary insurance begins on the day when the application is turned in to the Agentur für Arbeit. The application must be turned in personally at the Agentur für Arbeit at your place of residence. A valid ID must also be shown.
The monthly premium in 2010 is:
– for the self-employed, 78,75 EUR (West) and 67,20 EUR (East)
– for those employed in foreign countries: 78,75 EUR. The insured person must pay the premium him- or herself and do so directly to the Agentur für Arbeit.
If one ceases working in self-employment or stops working in a foreign country and is unemployed, the period of voluntary insurance is counted as a period of being subject to social insurance contributions; this means that this can be used to qualify for unemployment benefits.