In a big pension interview with BILD, Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (48, SPD) speaks about the exploding costs of pension insurance, promises senior citizens a pension increase for the coming year, guarantees the young generation a statutory retirement age of 67 and promises higher tax-free amounts for pensioners .
The minister also announced that his prestige project, the payment of the basic pension, was being delayed.
BILD: Can retirees look forward to a pension increase in the coming year?
Hubertus Heil: “Yes, you can. The economy is well on the way out of the Corona crisis and if the upswing continues, pensioners will also benefit because we are keeping the pension level stable. How high the adjustment will be can be reliably estimated at the end of the year. ”
However, such an increase must first be achieved by the employees, do they have to adjust to higher contribution rates?
Heil: “We have ensured that the contribution rates will remain stable at below 20 percent through 2025. I am in favor of anchoring a stop line in the contributions until 2040 as well. In order for this to succeed, however, it is important that wages rise and so do the number of employees. “
The demand for a higher retirement age has recently caused outrage – especially among the Social Democrats. Why are you so vehemently opposed to raising the retirement age? Not only the advisors to Economics Minister Peter Altmaier, but also the advisors to Finance Minister Olaf Scholz have called for an increase. Are they all wrong?
Heil: “In Germany, at 67, we already have one of the highest retirement ages in an industrialized nation. I am generally in favor of flexible transitions into retirement. But a rigid increase in the retirement age is alien to life. Because the professional life of a nurse or a construction worker is much more physically stressful than the work of the professors quoted here. Anyone who has worked for many years and has achieved a lot physically and mentally must have the right to retire after 45 years of insurance and at the latest at 67. Anything else would be unfair. ”
But Altmaier’s consultants didn’t even speak of a rigid retirement age. On the contrary, they proposed flexible retirement …
Heil: “So far, however, you have not given an answer on how to do it. I stick to it, no increase in the statutory retirement age, because that would mean pension cuts for many employees. “
So you guarantee that today’s 25-year-old doesn’t have to work longer than his 67th birthday?
Heil: “Yes. As long as the SPD determines pension policy, there will be no increase in the statutory retirement age. ”
The number of taxable pensioners has been increasing for years. I know Social Democrats don’t like talking about tax cuts, but isn’t there scope for relief?
Heil: “Yes. When it comes to small and medium incomes rather than top earners, the Social Democrats will be the first to cut taxes. Pensioners also benefit from this. “
The pension system has come under pressure in other areas as well: The tax subsidies have been increasing for years, meanwhile every third tax euro is used for the pension. Altmaier’s advisors therefore warned of “exploding costs”, the economist Bernd Raffelhüschen even sees the pension fund on the verge of “ruin” …
Heil: “Many of those who are now talking about the statutory pension are doing so in the interests of the financial sector. Thank God there are other economists. The fact is that the statutory pension is a central promise of our welfare state: it must apply to young and old that one gets a decent pension after a life full of work. The baby boomers will retire between 2025 and 2040. The best way to keep pensions stable over the long term is to have a strong labor market with better wages. The rule is that the more women and men are in work and the better the wage development, the more stable the pension fund is. That is why we need good economic policy, higher minimum wages and more collective bargaining coverage. This is what the SPD stands for. The CDU, on the other hand, wants to weaken the statutory pension. “
In order to bring more money into the fund, they also want civil servants to pay into the pension fund in the future. When does it start?
Heil: “I believe that a joint pension fund for employees, self-employed and civil servants is the right way to go in the long term. The federal, state and local governments must jointly discuss by when this can be achieved. ”
The Riester pension has written off its party, instead the SPD is calling for a new private pension product. Why?
Heil: “The number of active Riester contracts has been falling for years because the costs of many contracts are high and the returns are low. So it is high time for a new, attractive pension product. The important thing is that private and company pension schemes can only supplement statutory pension insurance, not replace it. ”
What about people who are still saving for their Riester contracts, will they still receive their state allowances in five or ten years?
Heil: “Do not worry, we will not pull the rug out from under the feet of people who have decided to take this precaution.”
In January one of their prestige projects, the basic pension, came into effect. How many pension payments have been transferred?
Heil: “The basic pension is a socio-political milestone. 1.3 million people benefit from this. Especially women who worked long hours, raised children and cared for loved ones. The first notices will be sent in the summer. For everyone who is entitled to the basic pension, the amounts that they have been entitled to since January 1st, 2021 will be paid out. “
What is the problem?
Heil: “It is a major social reform that is being implemented step by step. Everyone entitled to the basic pension will get it. The Deutsche Rentenversicherung is working at full speed to implement this in a technically clean manner. “