Künstlersozialkasse for authors - How to protect yourself properly

The Künstlersozialkasse protects authors in old age and in case of illness. It is an important social pillar for artists and authors. We show you what you have to do so that the "KSK" also helps you.

Financial security as an author

If you're Book authorIf you want to work as a freelancer, copywriter or editor, it is very important that you deal with the topics of financial security and pension provision. As a self-employed person, you are not only responsible for paying taxes, but also for paying social security contributions. Especially for artists and freelancers, the Künstlersozialkasse offers the possibility of financial security. We will explain how this works in the following. If you work as an author on a part-time basis, we recommend our article on the topic of Taxes for authors.

What is the Künstlersozialkasse (KSK)?

As an author, you can expect monthly costs that should not be underestimated, because you do not have an employer who pays a share of your social insurance. For many self-employed authors, health insurance is a significant cost item, because depending on the tariff, around 800 euros per month can be due. Unfortunately, many authors completely neglect pension insurance, because they can hardly bear the monthly costs. For authors, artists and many freelancers there is therefore since 1983 the Künstlersozialkasse for financial security and the avoidance of poverty in old age. The KSK has the task of ensuring that self-employed authors and artists receive comparable protection in the statutory social insurance system as employees.

The KSK, often abbreviated to Künstlerkasse, is not itself a service provider, but coordinates the payment of contributions for its members to a health insurance of their choice and to the statutory pension and long-term care insurance. Even as a self-employed author, you have the option of joining the KSK in order to ensure that you are covered.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Künstlersozialkasse

As a rule, self-employed persons have to bear the social security 100% alone, since the employer's contribution is omitted. Here the KSK steps in and takes over this share, so that insured persons only have to pay half of the contributions. The other half is paid by the federal government (40%) and from the amounts paid by companies that commission artistic and journalistic services (10%). tredition therefore also regularly pays 4.2% of the fees paid to artists and publicists to the KSK. The contributions of the insured are linked to income, while voluntarily insured self-employed persons pay a minimum contribution of currently around €160.

As one's fee increases, the absolute amount that one has to pay into the pension scheme also increases, of course. This is seen as a disadvantage by some publicists. In addition, the application process is somewhat tedious, as one has to submit numerous documents. Once you are insured through the KSK, you won't get out again so quickly as long as you work as a journalist. This is because freelance publicists and artists are subject to compulsory insurance. The only exceptions are if you also carry out other activities, for example self-employment that is not of an artistic or journalistic nature, or if you also start working as an employee again and the income from this exceeds certain values.

What are the requirements for admission to the Künstlersozialkasse?

If you are a full-time writer and your income is above the low-income limit of 3,900 euros per year, you have a good chance of being accepted. If you are below this limit for several years in a row, you may be excluded from the KSK. An exception is made for newcomers, so that it is possible to earn less than 3,900 euros per year in the first three years after taking up writing. It is also important that a possible further self-employed activity does not exceed the limit of 450 euros profit, so that the writing activity is in any case the main profession.

In addition, you may not employ more than one employee who is subject to social insurance contributions, as your activity is then mainly no longer journalistic, but entrepreneurial. If you are still studying or taking up a course of study parallel to your writing activity, it may still be possible to continue to be insured via the KSK. This will be examined by the KSK on a case-by-case basis. Last but not least, it should be noted in this context that only a very small number of authors make a living writing can.

How high are the contributions for the Künstlersozialkasse?

At the end of the year, the KSK will ask you to estimate your income for the following year. If changes occur during the course of the year, these should be reported subsequently so that the contributions can then be adjusted upwards or downwards. However, it is not possible to increase or decrease contributions retroactively. Every year, the KSK checks about 5% of the insured whether the income was estimated correctly or whether any changes were reported. However, minor deviations are allowed. Currently the rates are 18,6% for pension insurance and 14,6% for health insurance. Here, 3.05% or 3.3% (for childless persons) nursing care insurance is added. As a member of the KSK you only pay half of these percentages related to your annual income (business income minus business expenses).

Can I join the Künstlersozialkasse with a trade?

You have to deal with this question if you run a business as an author. You must register a trade if, for example, you sell your books or suitable promotional items via your own shop. This would then represent a further self-employment whose income may not exceed 450 euros per month in order to be included in the KSK. It is important to know in general: A trade is not a prerequisite for admission to the KSK and does not exclude it. The KSK cannot judge whether a trade is necessary for your activity. For this, please contact the trade office responsible for you.


If you are considering becoming self-employed as a writer - i.e. not just as a sideline - you should not only deal with questions of financial security early on, but also contact the Künstlersozialkasse (Artists' Social Security Fund) early on to clarify any questions you may have. If you meet the criteria for admission to the KSK, this is a valuable form of protection for you as a self-employed author.

By the way: If you are insured with a statutory health insurance fund via the artists' social insurance fund, you can also have your health insurance fund check whether your spouse and children can be covered by free family insurance in the statutory health and long-term care insurance fund. The question of whether you should become a completely self-employed author is closely linked to how successfully your books sell.


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