Insurance and taxes during the PhD
The situation of doctoral candidates regarding insurance law differs accordingly to your status. It is of critical importance whether you finance your PhD by a scholarship, are employed as a research assistant (“Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin oder Mitarbeiter”) or fund your PhD by other means.
With regard to insurance coverage it is beneficial to be enrolled as a doctoral student.
The following information on health, accident, and liability insurance as well as tax issues are supposed to be a guideline for doctoral candidates of the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, the Graduate Academy does not assume any legal liability. Individual insurance and taxation matters should always be discussed with the responsible authorities.
As a doctoral candidate you are not automatically registered with a statutory health insurance company. There are several different possibilities according to your status (please also consult the guidebook of the GEW “Sozialversicherung für Promovierende”, only available in German):
As an employed research assistant you are part of the social security system and have to take out statutory health insurance. For this it is irrelevant whether your job is a full-time or part-time job or whether it is financed by external funds.
For scholarship holders it is important to note that a scholarship does not legally count as salary (§3 Nr. 11 und 44 EStG), which affects health insurance matters. However, doctoral candidates with a scholarship are not necessarily entitled to inexpensive student health insurance. There are the options of taking out voluntary or private health insurance.
- If the doctoral position is being financed by other means, it may be possible to take out student health insurance. Otherwise you may take out voluntary or private health insurance. Which type of insurance you are eligible to depends on the amount of your income.
Tip: Health insurance companies offer special rates and packages for PhD candidates. It’s worth comparing!
The statutory accident insurance covers accidents at work and occupational diseases. Work accidents are not only those that occurred at the workplace or during the actual work activity, but also commuting accidents. The latter are accidents that happen on the way to or from work. Occupational diseases are illnesses, that the employee contracts due to work and that are either registered in the ordinance on occupational diseases (“Berufskrankheiten-Verordnung”) or induced by the employment according to new medical evidence. Whether you are covered by statutory accident insurance depends on your status:
Enrolled PhD students are covered by the statutory accident insurance of the state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) within the area of organizational responsibility of the university without additional costs for the doctoral candidate. An accident report should to be handed in at the InfoDesk in the SSC.
All employed research assistants at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg are covered by the statutory accident insurance for the whole period of their employment.
- Generally not covered are activities related to doctoral theses, which are undertaken outside of the university, unless they are part of events or activities or ongoing intensive supervision, for which the university has assumed organizational responsibility. In the latter case it is advisable to document e.g. the university’s responsibility or the instruction by the supervisor in advance.
An overview regarding accident insurance issues may be found on the webpages of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, information on the statutory accident insurance cover at the university are available on the pages of the Deutsche gesetzliche Unfallversicherung (“German Social Accident Insurance“) and the Landesunfallkasse Niedersachsen (statutory accident insurance company of the state of Lower Saxony, in German only).
Liability insurance covers damages to persons or objects caused by your personal behaviour. This includes for example the replacement of a lock system in the case of lost keys.
As an employed research assistant you are subject to a limited employee’s liability regulation at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg. However, this only applies if the damage has not been induced grossly negligently or intentionally.
- This regulation does not apply to doctoral candidates without employment at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg. Consequently, for doctoral candidates it is advisable to take out a private liability insurance that explicitly covers occupational damages.
Costs that result from your PhD are inter alia boundlessly tax-deductible as advertising expenses. It is not necessary that you receive a taxable income at this point in time, because a transfer to other years is possible. Tax-deductible are the following amongst others:
- semester fees
- travel expenses
- computer and software
- work material like copy cards and print paper
- scientific literature
- print costs
A necessary condition for costs of your PhD to be considered for taxes is a proof of the occupational connection between your PhD and, for example, improved career possibilities.
Tip: Collect all relevant receipts for proving tax-deductible costs.
Additional information on social security for PhD candidates (available in German only):