Künstlersozialkasse – Minimum income, contribution, allowance: Who should join?

So that both artists and publicists are compulsorily insured in Germany, there is the so-called artists’ social insurance fund. It regulates statutory health insurance, social care insurance and pension insurance for musicians, photographers, visual artists and publicists of all kinds. It covers the employer’s contribution to these compulsory insurances and is intended for all artists and artistically active people who do not pursue their activity out of passion or as a hobby, but make a living from it. However, not everyone can become a member of the Künstlersozialkasse, because the activity in this area must be permanent. So anyone who represents a photographer on his or her holiday for two weeks cannot join the Künstlersozialkasse in return. Even craftsmen who are artistically active but are counted among the craft professions cannot become members there.

Photographers can only join the artists’ social insurance to a limited extent

Unfortunately, the law classifies the work of photographers as handcrafted, who mainly take photos for private use, such as portrait or wedding photographers. Children or nude photographers are also excluded from this membership. On the other hand, advertising photographers or press photographers may well join the artists’ social security fund, and this also applies to all photographers who live from the fact that their photos are shown publicly at art exhibitions. Stock photographers are also included in the Künstlersozialkasse, as they do not have a permanent client, but take photos and then offer them for sale.

According to the legislator, stock photographers have the free choice of their motifs, which for him is an indication of artistic freedom. For the membership in the Künstlersozialkasse a business registration is neither an obligation nor an obstacle. However, independent artists of all kinds cannot be members of the Künstlersozialkasse if they employ more than one employee. In such a case they are not considered to be in need of protection and can insure themselves.

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Join the Artist Social Security

Those who are not sure whether they can become a member of the Künstlersozialkasse should complete the online questionnaire for membership. This questionnaire is a test for the Künstlersozialkasse whether the conditions for membership are met. The artist can prove the required income through his tax return, or an invoice. This also includes his activities at exhibitions, or perhaps certificates, prizes, or scholarships that he has received through his work. Publications can also be decisive for becoming a member of the Künstlersozialkasse.

Contributions to the Artists’ Social Security

The advantage of being a member of the Künstlersozialkasse is that the Künstlerkasse pays the employer’s contribution to the social insurance, which it in turn collects from the companies that have artists working for it, such as galleries, newspaper publishers or advertising agencies. That’s why the artists pay only half of the contributions compared to other self-employed people and are as good as employees. The Künstlersozialkasse also receives contributions from artists who, for example, with an annual income of around 10,000 euros per year, have to pay around 150 euros a month in contributions to the KSK. However, the amount of contributions also depends on other income, or the number of children present. If someone is engaged in a social security or artistic activity, it is usually decided in which area this person achieves the higher income in order to be classified there.

Many self-employed people are in great demand for entry into the artists’ social insurance fund because they have to pay far lower contributions for compulsory insurance there. However, the limits for membership in the Künstlersozialkasse are very limited and actually intended only for people who earn their living exclusively with art. For photographers this is however of disadvantage, because portrait and order photographers are classified as craftsmen, why they must pay the far higher tariffs of the independent ones. Only press and advertising photographers, such as those who devote themselves solely to their artistic inclinations, are recognised by the Künstlersozialkasse.

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