KSK stands for Künstlersozialkasse. It was founded in 1982 and has its headquarters in Wilhelmshaven.
1) Activity / Financing
The KSK pays half of the social security contributions (pension, health and long-term care insurance) for its members. These are financed by subsidies from the federal government (20%) and social security contributions from companies (30%), the so-called artists’ social security contribution. Those who use artistic services must therefore pay a percentage of the fees they pay to the artists to the KSK. This percentage is determined annually; for 2014 it is 5.2%. The KSK is therefore not a health insurance fund in its own right, but rather a “financing agency”. The artist can therefore remain in his or her previous health insurance fund after joining the KSK. The regulations on the KSK can be found in the Artists’ Social Insurance Act (KSVG).
Self-employed artists and publicists can become members of the KSK, including musicians. The prerequisite is self-employment. This is not the case, in particular, if one works permanently and essentially for only one client. As a rule, students cannot become members of the KSK either.
3) Minimum income
A further requirement for membership in the KSK is a minimum income from artistic activity of 3,900 euros per year or 325 euros per month. For newcomers to the profession, there is a special rule that this limit does not have to be reached in the first three years after taking up self-employed artistic activity. Then one pays the minimum contribution for health and long-term care insurance.
4) Problem of supplementary income
Since it is often not possible to finance one’s livelihood from artistic activity alone, many artists have to pursue a secondary occupation. However, the income earned from this must not be too high in comparison to the income from the artistic activity. Otherwise, the KSK assumes that the artist does not pursue the artistic activity on a full-time basis and is therefore not eligible for support.
In the past, artists had to observe the marginal earnings limit of 450.00 euros per month. Later, this limit was raised to 520.00 euros and, due to the pandemic, an artist was even allowed to earn 1,300.00 euros per month as a sideline.
Since the beginning of 2023, things have changed. Rigid limits on permissible additional earnings are a thing of the past. According to the new § 5 para. 1 no. 5 KSVG, it now depends on what the main economic activity of the artist is. Both income and working hours from artistic and non-artistic activities are compared.
If the income from the non-artistic activity outweighs the income from the self-employed artistic / journalistic activity, there is no longer an obligation to be insured in the health and long-term care insurance according to the KSVG. This means that the Künstlersozialkasse no longer pays half of the insurance contributions here.
Since the artist must always estimate his or her income for the future, the issue here is the anticipated income. Therefore, if it becomes apparent that the income from non-artistic activities will exceed the income from artistic activities, the artist is obliged to inform the KSK of this in a timely manner.
Notice is not necessary and also not possible (see point 5 below). There is also no “suspension” of the insurance. As soon as the artistic activity constitutes the artist’s main economic activity, the insurance obligation is revived, provided that the other requirements under the Artists’ Social Insurance Act are also met.
5) Admission procedure
Strictly speaking, as an artist you even have a duty to register (§ 11 KSVG) and will be insured with the KSK if the requirements are met (compulsory insurance according to § 8 KSVG), i.e. you do not have the choice whether to be insured with the KSK or not. The application form can be downloaded from the KSK website. Receipts for the artistic activity must also be submitted with the application. Here you should enclose every statement that has to do with the artistic activity. Since written statements, e.g. of concert income, are often not available, other documents such as flyers, posters, CD booklets, reviews, etc. can be submitted instead. In any case, musical training is a great advantage for proving the seriousness of the artistic activity. Once the application documents have been submitted in full, the KSK usually takes three months to examine them. If you then receive a positive decision, it is even retroactive. This means that you receive half of the social security contributions from the KSK from the time of application.
6) Consequences of membership
The consequences of establishing membership are:
– Entry into insurance cover
– Obligation of the KSK to provide information and advice
– Annual statement of contributions
– Obligation of the insured person to provide information and report in accordance with §§ 11 II, 12 I KSVG Control of the KSK by audit possible.
7) Insurance in private health insurance
Above a certain income, artists and publicists can apply for exemption from compulsory statutory health insurance. The income must be above the sum of the annual income limits in statutory health insurance for three consecutive calendar years.
Example: If you wanted to be exempted from statutory health insurance in 2023, you needed total income from self-employed artistic / journalistic work of more than 191,250 euros in the period from 01.01.2020 to 31.12.2022.
With the exemption from statutory health insurance, the exemption from insurance in the statutory long-term care insurance comes into effect at the same time.
Important: In the case of exemption from compulsory health insurance, artists/publicists are entitled to a subsidy from the KSK towards their expenses for private health and long-term care insurance. This subsidy must be applied for in writing to the KSK. The amount of the subsidy depends on the actual expenses for private health and long-term care insurance as well as the annual income from work achieved. The contribution share that the KSK would have to bear in the case of statutory health insurance, but no more than half of the actual insurance premium, serves as a benchmark.
Artists and publicists who remain voluntary members of the statutory health insurance despite their higher income also receive half of the voluntary contribution upon application. However, the amount of this is limited to the contribution share that the KSK would have to pay to the health insurance fund in the case of (fictitious) compulsory insurance.
For 2023, the compulsory insurance limit in the statutory health insurance (GKV) is 66,600 euros per year – or 5,550 euros per month.
According to the commentary on the Artists’ Social Insurance Act (KSVG), the future development of income has no influence on an exemption from the statutory health insurance obligation once it has been declared by the Artists’ Social Insurance Fund.
8) Obligation to pay pension insurance
In pension insurance, self-employed artists who have additional income from another self-employed and non-artistic activity are not subject to compulsory insurance in certain cases. This applies if the income from this non-artistic self-employed activity reaches a certain income limit (2023 = 43,800 euros old federal states).
9) Income estimate
A special feature of the KSK is that the amount of membership fees is determined on the basis of annual income estimates. The insured person must therefore state how high he or she estimates his or her income for the coming insurance year. There is no possibility to correct the estimate retroactively on the basis of documents such as income tax assessment, etc.
If the insured person deliberately underestimates his or her income, the KSK can make additional claims and theoretically initiate criminal proceedings. So far, the German Pension Insurance (DRV) has taken over controls for the KSK.
10) Cancellation of KSK membership?
Due to the compulsory insurance, membership of the KSK cannot be terminated. This means that the self-employed artist remains in the KSK as long as he or she fulfils the above criteria. You can therefore only leave the KSK if, for example, you are no longer active as an artist, your additional earnings are too high or you become an employer yourself and employ several people.
If you have questions about the KSK or other topics, I will be happy to advise you. It is not necessary for you to come to my office. You can send me your request in advance by e-mail (also with attachments). I will then make you a non-binding offer for a mandate and, if necessary, contact you by telephone. A mandate only comes into effect when the mandate is issued in writing.