Brexit Testimonies

30 September 2019

Imogen in Germany

"My retirement plans have being thrown into disarray. I cannot plan with any certainty."

At the age of 62, and having worked in the UK (for 7 years) and Germany (for 31 years), I am now approaching retirement. Moving to Spain has always been an idea, and as I started to make my plans, I found out that the country responsible for my healthcare insurance in retirement if I move to another EU country is the UK. Why the UK and not Germany, where I have lived and worked and paid into the healthcare system for decades? Because I have paid UK national insurance (including backdated payments while I was here) for more years than I have paid into the German pension scheme. I opted out of the German pension scheme when I went freelance in 1994, but continued to pay into the state health insurance scheme here. (Pension contributions and healthcare insurance are separate in Germany.)The fact that I now have dual nationality gives me residence rights in Germany, but makes no difference to this situation regarding healthcare.

Before Brexit loomed, I could have relied on the UK meeting its obligations towards my healthcare insurance in another EU27 country, through the S1 scheme. Now I find that I, too, am being caught up in the uncertainty over what will happen to healthcare insurance for UK pension recipients in Spain, and elsewhere in the EU27, in a Brexit scenario. My retirement plans have being thrown into disarray. I cannot plan with any certainty.

What irks most is that I am having to find out all these things myself unaided – and, even though I am fluent in German and can communicate with the authorities, this is not an easy task because I lack the expertise in UK and EU law regarding social security systems. There seems to be no advisory service to help people like me work their way through this minefield. And my case must be relatively simple compared to those UK nationals who have lived and worked and paid contributions in multiple systems, including outside the EU.

The search for answers continues. Another phone call to another German authority a couple of weeks ago has revealed a possible chink of light: EU law takes precedence over any bilateral agreement between an EU country and a non-EU country (e.g. Britain after Brexit). And, in such a case, because I have paid into the German healthcare system, Germany would be regarded as my responsible state, not the UK. Now I am trying to work out what that would mean, and how it might affect my plans.

Earlier testimony
Robert in Spain
Later testimony
Carol in Belgium
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