BEST BENEFIT FOR CREATIVES!
Let´s make a long story short: if you are a creative - KSK is most likely the best benefit for you, and you probably should apply for it.
In this article, we will go through the basics: what it is, who may apply and how much it costs - the content is designed to help you decide if
it´s worth it for you or not.
What is KSK (Künstlersozialkasse)?
KSK (Künstlersozialkasse) is a public organization, which regulates, manages and facilitates public health care and public pension insurance for its members.
Why is this good for me?
Since Germany is a welfare state, payment rates for public health care and pension insurance are very high: health care costs depend on your public health care provider (Krankenkasse). The average cost in Germany is 15,8% from your taxable income.
Public pension insurance will cost 18,7% from your income.
Whereas employees have half of this amount paid by their employers, self-employed people have to bear all these costs by themselves: and it piles up to around 34% from their taxable income. As a result, many self-employed people decide not to have those insurances. The main problem is not so much with health insurance (as there is a law that makes everybody have it), but rather with pension insurance, which is one of the first things we give up on.
KSK-Membership allows creatives, artists and publicists to enjoy the same conditions as employed workers by contributing to their health and pension insurance. In simple words, if you are a member of the KSK, the government will pay half of your health insurance and half of your pension insurance.
Another benefit of KSK-applications for expats has to do with getting into the public health care system (Krankenkasse): in many cases, freelancers and self-employed expats cannot get insured via the public health care system, which creates a situation in which people are not insured properly. Once you get into KSK, you also get public health care, which solves this problem as well.
Sounds great. Who is eligible?
Creatives, Artists and publicists who live and work in Germany on a freelance or self-employed basis.
One of the most important things here is your field definition, since KSK membership is given to people who meet certain criteria. Unfortunately, people who work "behind the stage", such as sound engineers and art consultants, might not get accepted to KSK. The reason for that will be that the purpose of the KSK is to support creatives, artists and publicists, therefore people who deal with the more technical aspects of the creative process will not necessarily be recognized as creatives, artists or freelancers in Germany.
Generally speaking, it is recommended to look at each case individually and to try and estimate your chances of getting accepted, as well as your expected monthly payments before applying in order to avoid unpleasant situations.
What does the application process look like?
The purpose of the KSK application is to determine whether you are a freelance creative, artist or publicist, who is working in creative fields on a regular basis. You will have to provide KSK with proofs for the fact that you are an active creative, artist or publicist, along with proofs of your (paid) work as freelance creatives, artists or publicists in the past six months. Additionally, you will need to prove a certain income (from freelance creative activities) in order to get in.
Its important to know that KSK applications can take some time. If you are lucky, you will hear back within 6-8 weeks. If you are not so lucky, it could be that your application will be pending for 6 months - before you hear any feedback. When they get back to you, they will probably have more questions and you will probably have to send more documents.
At the end, if you get accepted, you will get accepted retroactively to the date of your application and will have to back pay for the insurance for that period of time: if you are publicly insured during your application process, you will also get reimbursed from your Krankenkasse, so theoretically you will get your money back and then pay it to KSK. If you are privately insured at the time of your application, you will not get reimbursed and will have to pay for the pension insurance part only.
According to the rumors, tons of paperwork, long back and forth and loads of work is involved in this application. From our experience, if you check your eligibility before applying and know which documents to include in your application and how to fill out the application forms properly, this will not be so much work, and you might have high chances of getting accepted easily and (relatively quickly).
I don't want this insurance anymore. How can I terminate my membership?
Since this insurance is meant for creatives, artists and publicists who live and work in Germany, it could get terminated if you will stop doing creative work in Germany, meaning: if your occupational situation changes or if you leave Germany. If you continue working as freelancer creatives in Germany, leaving the KSK is almost impossible (apart from it not being recommended at all).
I am now employed. Now what?
You have the option of keeping your KSK membership if you are continuing to freelance as a creative, and as long you maintain a certain yearly income-threshold from your freelance work. In this case, you will continue making pension insurance payments monthly, which will add up to your pension insurance fund. Additionally, it will be easier for you to get back into KSK if your employment gets terminated, and if you decide to continue working as a freelance artist.