This paper investigates empirically how unemployment-induced employment-breaks at different career stages influence pension benefits. The analysis is based on German data. I distinguish four different career phases and investigate to what extent the prevailing social security policy compensated for earning losses. The results suggest that (1) losses in pension benefits were the greatest if unemployment occurred in the middle of a career (between 31 50); (2) social security policies have had a mitigating effect on losses in pension benefits. These findings indicate that institutions have a decided influence on how career patterns translate into pension benefits.