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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Family Support Centre

Financial Support

The German government supports families with an array of financial benefits, such as the parent benefit, the child benefit, the child allowance or advance child maintenance for single parents.

The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Seniors, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) has developed an online information tool – called “Infotool für Familien” – that allows you to determine in just a few steps which family benefits or types of assistance you or your family are potentially entitled to.

 

Unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld II) and social assistance (Sozialgeld)

Employees whose income is not high enough to support their own and/or their family’s living costs can, if necessary, also receive the unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld II). To that end, the income of all family members in the low-income household (Bedarfsgemeinschaft) will be considered in order to calculate the exact sum of the benefit. The unemployment office (Jobcenter) website has more information on the benefits as well as the prerequisites you must fulfil to receive them. Recipients of social benefits may also apply for educational and participatory benefits (see below). 

 

Assistance from Bundesstiftung Mutter und Kind

Needy parents can apply for funding to pay for basic baby supplies, among other things, from Bundesstiftung Mutter und Kind, a foundation that provides support to expectant mothers and families with financial difficulties. In order to qualify for the funding, you must obtain approval from a certified social counselling office. For more information, check out the family planning website of the Federal Centre for Health Education.

 

Parental benefit

The parental benefit (Elterngeld) is a government benefit for the parents of newborns and infants. It is meant to make up for a loss of earned income during the period when parents are caring for their child after birth. The parental benefit has several variants: the basic parental benefit (Basiselterngeld), extended parental benefit (ElterngeldPlus) and the partner bonus (Partnerschaftsbonus). Each of these variants can be combined with one another and will be explained below. Parents who live separately may also receive parental benefits.  

Basic parental benefit

The basic parental benefit (Basiselterngeld) is paid to mothers and fathers for a maximum of 14 months; the two parents can divide the 14 months between them however they please. If only one parent receives the benefit, he or she may receive it for at least two and up to 12 months. The two additional months are added if the other parent also takes care of the child and the parents do not have their regular earned income for at least two months. Single parents who receive the parental benefit to offset their lack of income can receive the full 14 months of parental benefits since they do not have a partner.

Parents have three months to apply for the parental benefit starting on the day of the child’s birth. They can either apply online at the Elterngeld Digital website or in person in the parental benefit office (Elterngeldstelle) of their local youth welfare office (Jugendamt). The exact sum of the benefit is based on the average net income of the parent(s) in the 12 months prior to the birth. The parental benefit ranges from 65% (those with a high income) to 100% (those with a very low income) of said income, although it will be a minimum of 300 euros and a maximum of 1,800 euros per month. You can use the BMFSFJ’s parental benefit calculator to find out the exact amount you will receive. The extended parental benefit allows parents to receive the parental benefit for a longer period of time. 

Extended parental benefit

After their child is born, parents can decide between receiving the basic or extended parental benefit (ElterngeldPlus) or a combination of both. One monthly parental benefit payment is equal to two months of extended parental benefit, the amount of the latter being at most half the amount of the parental benefit. The extended parental benefit is geared in particular towards parents who want to work part-time while receiving the parental benefit. 

Partner bonus

If both parents work (or a single parent works) between 25 and 30 hours per week over the course of four consecutive months, they will receive four additional months of extended parental benefits: this is the partner bonus (Partnerschaftsbonus). In order to be eligible for this bonus, one parent has to be continuously receiving the extended parental benefit from the 15th month of the child’s life onwards.

 

Child benefit

From the child’s birth onwards, parents can apply for the child benefit (Kindergeld) at the family benefits office (Familienkasse) of their local branch of the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). Currently, the benefit is 204 euros per month per child for the first and second child. Normally it is paid out every month for all children until they turn 18, though it can be extended to age 25 if the child is studying or in professional training. The child benefit is paid to the person who has custody of the child. In the case of young parents who are entitled to the child benefit, it is possible to for them to receive child benefit payments for themselves and their own children at the same time.

The paperwork you need to apply can be found on the Federal Employment Agency website. Detailed information on the child benefit can be found on the website of the Senate Administration for Education, Youth Welfare and Family (Senatsverwaltung für Bildung, Jugend und Familie).

 

Child allowance

The child allowance (Kinderzuschlag) is offered as a supplement to the standard child benefit (Kindergeld). It is designed to ensure that low-income families have enough money to secure their living costs. The exact amount of the child allowance is based on the income of the parents and the children (e.g. from maintenance payments), though it cannot exceed 185 euros per child. On the Federal Employment Agency’s website, you can determine whether you are entitled to the child allowance. Child allowance recipients can also apply for educational and participatory benefits (see below).

 

Educational and participatory benefits

Families that already receive unemployment benefits, asylum seeker benefits, the child allowance, social assistance, income support or the housing benefit are also eligible to apply for educational and participatory benefits (Leistungen für Bildung und Teilhabe), also known as the “education package” (Bildungspaket). This package includes subsidies for everything from school supplies to extracurricular activities, e.g. at a sports club or music school. In addition, the cost of school trips, school lunches and tutoring or learning aids (Lernförderung) can be completely reimbursed. You can find more information at https://familienportal.de.

 

Maternity benefit

Mothers receive the maternity benefit (Mutterschaftsgeld) during the maternity protection period (Mutterschutz), which starts six weeks before the estimated due date and ends eight weeks after the birth. This benefit is designed to substitute the loss of the expectant mother’s income during that period. In order to receive it, the expectant mother must have public health insurance and a valid employment contract at the beginning of said period.

The maternity benefit is based on the average take-home pay from the past three calendar months before the start of the maternity protection period. If your take-home pay was higher than 13 euros per day, your employer will pay the difference, though only as long as your employment relationship is valid. The maternity benefit and employer contribution are offset against the parental benefit once the child is born.

If you as an employee have either private health insurance or are insured as a dependant under a family plan, you can file an application with the Federal Insurance Office for a one-off maternity benefit of max. 210 euros.

 

Child maintenance or advance child maintenance for single parents

Every child has the right to support from both parents. When a child lives with both parents, they provide this support with care, child rearing and money. However, if a child lives with predominantly or only one parent, that parent usually provides more care and child-rearing. As a result, the other parent must contribute in the form of child maintenance payments. The sum is dependent on the income of the parent paying child maintenance as well as of the child’s needs. The sum is often determined on the basis of the Düsseldorfer Tabelle, an index that can be found online on the website of Düsseldorf’s Higher Regional Court. Your local youth welfare office can also advise you on child maintenance.

If the parent required to pay child maintenance does not pay or only pays partially or irregularly, or if the father of the child is unknown, your child may be entitled to advance child maintenance. Your local youth welfare office can also advise you on this subject.

Single working parents can receive an income tax credit. If you are in the second tax bracket (Steuerklasse II), you will receive it automatically. You can apply for this status at your local tax office. If you are not sure which is your office, go to the website of the Federal Central Tax Office (Bundeszentralamt für Steuern) to find the one nearest you. In order to obtain second tax bracket status, you must either receive the child benefit (Kindergeld) for your child(ren) or be entitled to the child tax credit (Kinderfreibetrag) instead. In addition, no further of-age person may reside in your household. For more information, please visit https://familienportal.de/steuerentlastungen.

 

Housing benefit

The housing benefit (Wohngeld) is a government rent subsidy which is designed above all to provide financial relief to families with a low income. In order to receive the housing benefit, the applicants must have a minimum income that does not, however, exceed the upper income limit. The housing benefit calculator provided by the Berlin Senate Administration (Berliner Senatsverwaltung) will help you determine whether you are eligible for this benefit.  

You can apply for the housing benefit at your district’s housing office (Wohnungsamt) or your local citizens’ office (Bürgeramt). Visit the Senate Administration website to find the housing office in your area.

Housing benefit recipients are also eligible to apply for educational and participatory benefits (see above).