Financial and Social Support
Child and Parental Benefits
How do I receive child benefits?
Families with children are supported by the state. You can apply for child allowance. Child allowance is guaranteed until the child is 18 years old; as long as the child is not in employment but registered as a job-seeker, child allowance can be paid until their 21st birthday. As long as the child is in his/her first vocational training the allowance will be granted up to their 25th birthday as a maximum. Child benefits currently amount to monthly contributions for the first and second child of €194, €200 for the third child and from the fourth child, €225. From 1st July 2019, the amount for child benefits increases by €10 per child.
The parent who receives the child allowance must be a resident in Germany. In principle, the child must also live with them. In any case, under certain conditions it is possible to also apply for child allowance for children who live in a different EU country or in a country which the Federal Republic of Germany have concluded an agreement on social security with (e.g. Turkey). In the last instance, child allowance may be considerably lower than for children in Germany.
Citizens from non-EU countries require a Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence permit) or a Niederlassungserlaubnis (settlement permit) to claim child allowance. The residence permit must entitle you to work, either in an employed position or in as self-employed.
If a parent has a humanitarian residence permit in accordance with Section 23, paragraph 1 of the Residence Act ‘because of a war in his/her homeland’ or pursuant to Sections 23a, 24, 25 paragraphs 3 to 5 of the Residence Act, an additional prerequisite applies that he/she has to have been allowed, granted or permitted residency in Germany for three years and have entered into permitted employment or receive unemployment benefit I or be on parental leave.
Non-EU citizens who have a residence permit to study (Section 16 of the Residence Act) or have a vocation (Section 17 of the Residence Act) do not receive child allowance. Also, non-EU citizens with a residence permit to work do not receive child allowance if the employment agreement is only permitted for a limited period of time. This last point is regulated in the Employment Directive and refers to seasonal workers, au pairs, carers in private households, and specialty chefs.
In principle, you apply for child allowance from the Family Benefits Office (Familienkasse) of the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). Employees in public service and civil servants are paid child allowance by their employers.
As the details for children living abroad may be complicated, if this applies to you, you should consider asking a specialist social advice center for information.
How do I receive parental benefits?
Parental allowance is an additional service that the German state provides to support families. Anyone with minor children who live with them, who raise and look after them, and as a result, largely work part time, can in principal apply for parental allowance. It is possible to work up to 30 hours a week part time without losing the right to parental allowance.
Parental allowance can be paid from the birth of the child for one year. For parent couples, both parents may decide whether the parental allowance shall be paid to one parent or whether it will be divided between the two of them, or whether one parent shall receive parental allowance for a few months, and the other shall receive it for the remaining months. If both parents reduce their working hours for at least two months each, then they can receive parental allowance for two additional months (‘partner months’).
It is also possible to receive half of the parental allowance per month and then receive parental allowance for double the amount of time (‘parental allowance plus’). With this model, parents can receive parental allowance plus for four additional months if both partners work at least 25 (maximum 30) hours a week during these four months.
Parental allowance will in principal be in the amount of 65 to 67 percent of the income that the parent received before the birth of the child. A minimum amount of €300 and up to a maximum of €1.800 per month will be paid. If two children under three, or three or more children under six live in the household, a ‘sibling bonus’ of 10% of the parental allowance, at least €75 a month, will be paid.
For a first overview of approximately how much parental benefits you can receive, you can use the online parental benefits calculator. Please note however, that the exact amount of parental benefits can deviate, as the online calculator only calculates a rough approximate value of parental benefits.
EU citizens can also apply for parental allowance, similar to child allowance, if the family live in a different EU country but one parent works in Germany.
For non-EU citizens, the same legal limitations apply as those for child allowance: You must have a Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence permit) or a Niederlassungserlaubnis (settlement permit); further limits apply for certain types of residence permit. In addition to the rules regarding child allowance, parental allowance is also excluded for holders of residence permits pursuant to Section 104a of the Residence Act.
Please contact the Parental Allowance Office to apply for parental allowance. This can be found in the Youth Welfare Office in the district authorities in Berlin. You will also be able to receive additional information.
The application for parental benefits is supplied by the parental benefits office of the district in which you live. You can find the parental benefits office responsible in Berlin in the youth welfare office in the district offices. There, you can receive further information and be personally advised. You can also fill out your application with the online application assistant Elterngeld Digital and then print it out to be sent to your local parental benefits office.
What support is available for single parents?
If you raise your child alone and the other parent receives an income from which he/she must pay for the upkeep of the joint child but he/she does not meet this obligation, then you can apply for maintenance payments.
You can then receive monthly maintenance in the amount of the legal minimum maintenance payment for your child. This complies with the legal subsistence level for children. Child allowance and genuine maintenance payments from the other parent will be deducted. Currently, children between the ages of 0 and 6 receive €154 per month, children between the ages of 6 and 12 receive €205 monthly and between the ages 12 and 18, €273 monthly (in the process, the child benefits for the first child to the amount of €194 is already deducted). The alimony advance is paid for a maximum of six years (72 months) and only up to the 18th birthday of a child, whichever comes first.
For non-EU citizens, the same limitations apply as those for child allowance: You must have a Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence permit) or a Niederlassungserlaubnis (settlement permit); further limits apply to holders of certain types of residence permit.
Contact the Maintenance Payment Office to apply for maintenance payments. This can be found in the Youth Welfare Office in the district authorities in Berlin. You will also be able to receive additional information.
What support is available for families?
A prerequisite for services from the education and participation package refers to services of basic provision for job seekers in accordance with the German Social Code II (SGB II) (employment benefit II ‘Hartz IV’) for social help (particularly basic provision in old age and for inability to work, German Social Code (SGB XII)) from housing allowance to child supplements.
In principle, EU citizens also have a right to these benefits and therefore also for the benefits of the education and participation package for their children. EU citizens who only are only seeking work through the right to free movement are excluded. Also, EU citizens, who no (longer) have the right free movement, are denied regular social security payments by the social services and also the benefits according to the education and participation package.
People from non-EU countries then have the right to basic social benefits (and as a result the education and participation package) if they hold a residence permit. Exceptions are non-EU citizens who hold a residence permit:
- a) due to war in their homeland in accordance with Section 23, para. 1 or Section 24 of the Residence Act,
- b) in accordance with Section 25, para. 4, sentence 1 of the Residence Act or,
- c) in accordance with Section 25, para. 5 of the Residence Act, if the decision regarding their suspension of deportation has been put back another 18 months.
This group of persons does not have any claim to benefits in accordance with SGB II/XII, but rather in accordance with the Benefits for Asylum Seekers Act. However, benefits for the education and participation package can also be applied for.
Refugees also have a claim for benefits in accordance with the Benefits for Asylum Seeks Act (and also the education and participation package) during the asylum process and foreigners who (e.g. as a result of the deferral of their asylum application or non-extension of their residence permit) do not have right to residence and must leave the country. This also applies for instance if it cannot be deferred due to health reasons or because of missing papers and suspension of deportation is received.
If a person receives benefits in accordance with the Benefits for Asylum Seekers Act, they may lose the right for the education and participation package if he/she meets one of the reasons for a benefit reduction. Such benefit reductions can be imposed in accordance with the law, for example, if someone deliberately does not fulfil his/her obligation to leave or deliberately delays his/her own departure.
What services are available for women?
There are many services open to women in Berlin. You can find a selection on the website of the Senate Department for Women’s Affairs. It lists social-cultural projects for women in Berlin and projects for women whose mother tongue is not German.