Self-employed artists and publicists are obliged to take out social insurance in Germany under the Artists' Social Insurance Act (KSVG). Self-employed artists are covered through the social insurance fund for artists (Künstlersozialkasse - KSK), which provides social protection within the statutory health, nursing care and pension insurance systems.
The KSK itself is not a health, nursing care or pension insurance. It merely registers the insured artists and publicists with a statutory health and nursing care insurance scheme and with the statutory pension insurance scheme, and forwards their contributions to the responsible institutions.
Anyone who creates, practices or teaches music, performing or visual arts is an artist within the definition of the Artists' Social Insurance Act (Künstlersozialversicherungsgesetz KSVG). The artistic or journalistic activity must be self-employed and gainful. Gainful is any sustained, long-term activity aimed at generating income.
Artistic or journalistic activity can only be termed self-employed if it does not constitute paid employment within the framework of an employment relationship. Artists and publicists who only work temporarily in Germany are not insured through the KSK.
application forms / questionnaire:
Work income is the difference between business income and business expenditure. It is the outcome of a profit and loss account drawn up in accordance with the general rules for determining profit under income tax law.
- Business income comprises all income in cash or monetary value that is directly related to the independent artistic or journalistic activity (e.g. fees, royalties, salaries). This also includes all copyright royalties, including those received via collecting societies (GEMA, GVL, Verwertungsgesellschaft Wort, Verwertungsgesellschaft Bild-Kunst etc.).
Please see here: Are scholarships included in income from artistic activity?
- Business expenses are all expenses or costs related to one's independent artistic or journalistic activity. They include all expenses incurred in any self-employed activity subject to compulsory insurance during the insurance period. The expenses include in particular expenses for business premises (rent, lighting, heating, cleaning), expenses for auxiliary staff (wages, social security contributions), expenses which are otherwise deducted as income-related expenses from any income from non-self-employed work, insofar as they have been incurred in exercising self-employed activity that is subject to compulsory insurance, contributions to professional associations, and write-offs.
Non-deductible are special expenses according to Income Tax Law (e.g. contributions to social insurance for artists or premiums for private health or life insurance).
Arbeitsstipendien, d. h. Stipendien, die im Zusammenhang mit einer Arbeitsleistung oder der Erstellung eines Werkes gezahlt werden, wurden von der KSK auch vor dieser Entscheidung zum Arbeitseinkommen aus selbständiger künstlerischer bzw. publizistischer Tätigkeit gezählt. (Im Zweifelsfall – also wenn die Einnahmen aus einem derartige Stipendium eingerechnet werden sollen, sollte auf das Urteil hingewiesen werden, weil das bei der KSK nicht immer präsent ist.) Nicht zu berücksichtigen sind dagegen Stipendien, die unmittelbar aus öffentlichen Mitteln oder von zwischenstaatlichen oder überstaatlichen Einrichtungen zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen oder künstlerischen Ausbildung oder Fortbildung gewährt werden.
Scholarships subject to income tax count as regular income from artistic activity. In a ruling, the Federal Social Court (Ref.: B 3 KS 2/12R of 28.11.2013) pointed out that under certain circumstances tax-free grants may also be included in earned income under the KSVG.
Work grants, i.e. grants paid in connection with a work realisation or the creation of a work, were counted by the KSK as part of the income earned from independent artistic or journalistic activity even before this decision. (In case of doubt – i.e. whether the income from such a grant should be included – reference should be made to the ruling because this is not always familiar at the KSK). Not to be taken into account, on the other hand, are scholarships granted directly from public funds or by intergovernmental or supranational institutions for the promotion of scientific or artistic education or further training.
Artists and publicists who do not earn an expected annual income at least above the statutory limit are exempt from insurance. This means that there is no compulsory insurance within the statutory health and long-term care insurance or the pension insurance systems.
This limit has stood at 3,900.00 EURO per year and 325.00 EURO per month since 2004.
The legislator has provided for special protection for job starters who have yet to develop an economic foundation. According to the KSVG, job starters are also insured in the statutory pension, health and nursing care insurance even if they will probably not exceed the required minimum income. The first three years since taking up a self-employed artistic or journalistic activity are considered as the period of starting employment.
In principle, artists may fall below the minimum income twice within six years without the KSK being allowed to terminate their membership.
Further conditions, see:
The premium is based on the contribution rates for statutory pension, health and long-term care insurance and is easily calculated. The basis is the expected annual earned income.
Calculations and information about minimum and maximum contributions to Artists' Social Insurance can be found here:
Under certain conditions, in principle: Yes.
A minor non-artistic, self-employed activity or minor non-artistic employment does not affect insurance under the KSVG.
Remuneration from an employment relationship is insignificant if it does not exceed € 450.00 per month. This sum applies correspondingly to self-employed non-artistic/non-publicist activity. Here, however, the annual profit is important: It is negligible if it does not exceed €5,400.00 per year. If the activity is not pursued for a full year, the limit must be considered proportionately.
Self-employed artists and publicists are not covered by health and nursing care insurance under the KSVG if they have reached the age of 55 and have not been statutorily insured in the last five years.
Self-employed artists and publicists who are compulsorily insured under the KSVG are entitled to sickness benefit from the statutory health insurance fund from the 7th week of incapacity to work. A self-employed person may not call upon an employer to continue paying wages for the first six weeks of his incapacity for work. However, this period between the beginning of the incapacity for work and the entitlement to sickness benefit (from the 7th week) is often economically difficult for many self-employed persons to bridge. Therefore, in addition to this basic entitlement, the legislator has opened up a possibility for self-employed persons to start receiving sickness benefit earlier in the event of incapacity for work.
For this purpose, the statutory health insurance funds offer the possibility of structuring benefit claims within the context of optional tariffs if additional contributions are paid. However, these additional contributions must be paid directly to the health insurance fund and not to the artists' social insurance fund. The chosen statutory health insurance company will be happy to provide you with information about this.
Self-employed artists in Germany must pay social security under the Artists' Social Security Act (KSVG). This is therefore a compulsory membership. If your income falls below the minimum income during the period of the KSK check, but is above the required minimum income in the current year, you are still subject to compulsory insurance via the KSK, and will remain a KSK member.
The KSK contribution check risk calculator from ver.di, mediafon and Kunst & Kultur, enables you to find out for yourself whether KSK checks could become a problem: https://www.ra-schimmel.de/KSVG/BUEVO.html