Translators officially recognized as artists

Reading Corinne McKay’s blog today about “Providing your own benefits” as a freelancer reminded me of an opportunity available to freelancers in Germany. It is called the “Künstler Sozialkasse.” It is a benefits office which will assume the portion of a freelancer’s benefits that would normally be covered by an employee’s company, including health insurance, retirement insurance contributions and more. The Künstler Sozialkasse is determined to help artists (Künstler) achieve a high-quality of life and to prevent them from losing up to 50% of their income for the payment of benefits.

The good news is that the Künstler Sozialkasse has recently officially recognized translators as artists, which means that freelance translators living and working in Germany are welcome to apply. The application process can be intense but it is well worth the trouble. Membership is free, but it is necessary to prove that you actually are an artist (translator). To prevent part-timers, moonlighters or wannabes from taking full advantage, the Künstler Sozialkasse requires applicants to prove that they make their living from their art (translating) by submitting copies of invoices, recommendations from clients and more.

All of the information along with the application material is available (in German) from their website.

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3 responses to “Translators officially recognized as artists

  1. When it comes to planning ahead for your retirement the KSK is no substitute for some long-term planning. I met plenty of artsy folks in Germany who signed up to the KSK in the belief that they were somehow doing themselves a favor by placing their financial future in the hands of the KSK while simultaneously striving to pay in as little as possible. Little wonder that a few years down the track they were receiving letters from the KSK advising them that at their current rate of savings they would (30 years down the track) receive a monthly pension of €75. This is a particularly pressing issue for unmarried female artists, who are severely disadvantaged by this system.
    The transfer of pension rights across borders and the question of whether the KSK would pay out were you to spend your retirement in the US (or NZ in my case) is also very pertinent.
    While I am not up to speed with the latest developments , international freelancers may well be better advised to steer clear of state schemes entirely and make private arrangements more suited to their lifestyles.

  2. As far as I recall, not all categories of translation qualify, and those that do are usually so badly compensated in most cases that one would be better off switching specialties and stuffing the extra cash under a mattress.

    A few years ago I reviewed some details of this scheme and was briefly concerned that somehow I might be required to participate in it. The details did not seem financially compelling, and the premiums paid by clients seemed rather an annoyance. Better to dump literature translations & the like and do something else at quadruple rates or better.

  3. I was also under the impression that the KSK is only for literary translators (unless that has very recently changed). I was disappointed at first that as a technical translator I didn’t qualify, but I now agree that private arrangements for retirement will be better in the long run. For health insurance, I’m not so sure….

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