After a long campaign spearheaded by former KT Chairman, Hermann Hirschberger, certain Kindertransport refugees who fled to Britain, and whose parents were of German nationality, may be entitled to an increase in their German retirement pensions following a change in British pension law announced by the Minister for Pensions Reform, Mike O’Brien QC MP.
Following a ruling at the European Court of Human Rights, in the 1990s the German state pension system was opened up to Kindertransport survivors enabling those without pre-war German insurance contributions to ‘buy in’ to the German system on the condition that they applied for and were granted German nationality.
However, the contributions they had made to the British social insurance system before 1948 had the effect of reducing the value of the German pension. Owing to pan-European rules on how periods of insurance in different countries affect each other, the German retirement pensions were reduced for every year of contribution made in Britain from 1939-1948. Kinder who started making contributions in 1939, until 1948, therefore received no German retirement pension whereas someone who started paying contributions in 1943 would receive approximately 4/9 of the retirement pension.
The amendment now tabled by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will enable Kinder who wish to apply to have their UK pre-1948 credits removed from national insurance records. In most cases this in turn is likely to boost the value of their German pensions. The change could affect Kinder who entered employment between 1939 and 1948 in Britain.
Around 150 Kinder affected by the present rules are said to be known to the DWP and it is anticipated that others will come forward once the amendment becomes law. When applying for the proposed increase in their pensions, it is envisaged that Kinder will also be able to claim for up to four years back-pay.
It is expected that the Pensions Bill including the proposed amendment will receive Royal Assent in late autumn and further information will be published in the Journal when it is available.
Kinder interested to enquire about the possibility of receiving an increase in their pensions are advised to contact the DWP International Pension Centre on 0191 218 7777 and ask to be referred to the claims department. The department can also be emailed at TVP.Internationalqueries@thepensionservice.gsi.gov.uk
Once registered, a case worker will then make contact to advise the next steps, which will include having the claim transferred to Germany for processing.