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Financial and social assistance

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Child allowance

The application for child allowance should be submitted to the family benefits office of the employment agency after childbirth. You can find the application forms there itself. The child's birth certificate should also be attached to the application.

You will receive € 194 in 2018 for the first and second child, € 200 for the third child and € 225 for every succeeding child. Child allowance is paid to the parent with whom the child lives.

In 2019, the child allowance is said to increase by 10 euros per month. 

In statutory health insurance, you get:

  • Preventive check-ups by a gynaecologist or midwife
  • certain prenatal diagnostics depending on indication
  • Prenatal classes
  • There will not be any additional contribution on prescription fees, if they are related to pregnancy and childbirth
  • Maternity allowance
  • You shall be given midwife assistance before, during and after birth (childbed care at home)
  • Postpartum exercises
  • there shall be domestic help at your disposal already during pregnancy, if certain conditions are met

Voluntarily legally insured persons are entitled to all the aforementioned benefits until birth, after which other conditions apply.
Family members are not entitled to Maternity allowance, or to any other benefits.

Maternity leave and maternity allowance

During pregnancy, all pregnant workers are protected by the Maternity Protection Act against dismissal and serious dangerous work. The Maternity Protection Act comes into force immediately after notification of pregnancy. This holds applicable to all women in an employment relationship; similar regulations are applicable to civil servants. If it is certain that a woman is pregnant, she should inform her employer and the possible date of delivery. This is the only way he/she can adhere to the protection regulations for pregnant employees. Protection against dismissal begins during pregnancy, is applicable during the maternity protection period (or until 4 months after childbirth) and during parental leave. Termination during this time is illegal and should be contradicted in writing.

If you are asked in an interview about a possible existing pregnancy, you do not need to answer this question since this question is illegal.

The maternity protection period begins 6 weeks before the calculated delivery date and ends 8 weeks after the birth. In any case, a woman is entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave, so if the child is born before the calculated delivery date, the time after the birth is included. The protection period after the birth is extended from 8 weeks to 12 weeks in case of an early or multiple birth, and to 12 weeks, if the child was born with a disability.
Before giving birth, the woman can work voluntarily, if she wishes; after giving birth, there is an absolute prohibition of employment. Maternity allowance is paid at the beginning of the maternity protection period and corresponds to the average net wage, if the pregnant woman is in an employment relationship and has statutory health insurance. The health insurance company pays 13 € per day, the rest is paid by the employer.

Recipients of (unemployment benefit) ALG I receive maternity allowance equal to the monthly unemployment benefit payments from the health insurance fund.

ALG II recipients (unemployment benefit II) continue to receive ALG II from the Employment Agency.
Maternity allowance is claimed from the health insurance company after the gynaecologist has issued a certificate stating the expected date of birth. In case of working women, this is dealt with by the employer.

During the maternity protection period, every woman is insured free of charge with the health insurance company.

Female employees, who are privately or family insured, receive maternity benefit of €210 upon application to the Federal Insurance Office. As a rule, private health insurance companies do not pay maternity allowance. Voluntarily legally insured persons receive maternity allowance, if they are entitled to sick leave. Minor employees receive maternity pay of €13 per day from the health insurance company, if they are a contributory member of the statutory health insurance company

Parental leave, parental allowance and Elterngeldplus (Advanced parental allowance scheme)

Parents must know the distinction between basic parental allowance, Elterngeld Plus (Advanced parental allowance scheme) and the companionship bonus months

Who is entitled to parental allowance in principle?

Mothers and fathers, who look after their children in their own household in Germany and work less than 30 hours a week are entitled to parental allowance.

This is applicable to employees, civil servants, those self-employed, those unemployed, students and trainees.

In the event of serious illness, severe disability or death of the parents, relatives (up to the third degree) and their spouse can claim parental benefit, if they take care of the child.

Calculation of parental allowance

The parental allowance is calculated on the basis of the average gross income of the care-taking parent over the last 12 months without lump sum payments. A flat-rate amount for taxes and social security contributions is deducted from this. Among other things, this depends on the income tax class, church tax liability, child allowances, social insurance liability, etc.

As a rule, parental allowance replaces 65 to 67 percent of the last net income.

Amount of the basic parental allowance

The amount of the parental allowance depends on the income of the parent who takes care of the child.

It amounts to a minimum of € 300 and a maximum of € 1,800.

Parental allowance and income / other benefits

If you receive parental allowance, you can work up to 30 hours a week. The part-time income is, however, credited. This means that only 67% of the partial income is paid when the parental allowance is calculated.
For self-employed persons, 67% of the lost profit due to the caretaking of the child is reimbursed after deduction of the applicable taxes.

Parental allowance is fully credited to unemployment benefit II, social assistance and supplementary child allowance. Those who were gainfully employed before the birth of the child, however, receive a parental tax allowance in the amount of the income, which comes to 300 € at most. This parental tax allowance is not deducted from the benefits mentioned above.

Sibling bonus and multiple births

If there is a sibling under three years of age or at least two siblings under six years of age along with the newborn child, a sibling bonus amounting to ten percent of the parental allowance, at least € 75 per month, is paid in addition to the parental allowance.

In case of multiple births, the parental allowance is increased by € 300 each for the second and every succeeding child.

For how long is the basic parental allowance paid?

In principle, the basic parental allowance is paid for a maximum period of 14 months.

Fathers and mothers are free to agree upon the division of this period among themselves. However, a person can take a maximum of 12 months and a minimum of 2 months. This means that the full 14 months only hold applicable to couples, where both of them take parental leave and the parents lose at least two months of earned income.

Elterngeld Plus (Advanced parental allowance scheme)

Instead of one month of basic parental allowance, two months of Elterngeld Plus (Advanced parental allowance scheme) can be applied for. This extends the reference period up to 28 months, but the total amount remains the same (i.e. parents receive half of the basic parental allowance each month).

In addition, new companionship bonus months will be introduced for Elterngeld Plus (Advanced parental allowance scheme). The prerequisite is that: Father and mother work between 25 and 30 hours a week for at least four months simultaneously. A certificate from both employers is also required for this.

Single parents

Single parents who have sole custody of the child receive parental allowance for 14 months.

They can also apply for four additional bonus months under Elterngeld Plus (Advanced parental allowance scheme), provided they work between 25 and 30 hours per week for four consecutive months.

How to apply

For parental allowance, you need to apply in writing to the authorities responsible for the parental allowance (usually the pension office) and you ill be paid retroactively for a maximum of 3 months. The application must specify for how many months parental benefit is claimed and must be signed by the other entitled person.

Parental leave

By the way, up to 24 months of three-year parental leave can now be taken between the child's third and eighth birthdays - without the employer having to agree.

Single parents are entitled to special rights and benefits:

·        Advance payment of child support:

Single parents receive advance payment of child support until the age of 12, if they receive no, inadequate or irregular child support from the other parent liable for maintenance. The rates are EUR 150 per month for children from 0 to 5 years of age and EUR 201 for children from 6 to 11 years of age.
Children from 12 to 17 years of age can also receive a child support payment (amounting to EUR 268) if they are not dependent on benefits under the Second Book of Social Law (SGB II) or if the single parent earns at least EUR 600 gross with respect to SGB II (Second Book of Social Law).

    • authority in charge: Youth welfare office

o   Maintenance for child support:

Single mothers are entitled to maintenance from the father of the child up to three years - in certain cases up to 7 years - after childbirth, if they cannot reasonably be required to pursue gainful employment because they are accountable for the care or upbringing of the common child.

      • authority in charge: Father of the child

§  The costs of childcare and household management (household allowance) can be deducted from taxes.

        • authority in charge: Tax office
        • More favourable provisions may be considered for parental allowance in case of single parents.
        • Single parent allowance by ALG II (unemployment benefit II)
          • authority in charge: Employment Agency

Unemployment benefit II

In pregnancy and in the period after birth, you can apply for Alg II (unemployment benefit II) in order to secure livelihood. The ALG II (unemployment benefit II) eligibility criteria needs you to be:

  • Between 15 and 65 years of age
    (Children under 15 years of age receive social benefits)
  • Fit for work, i.e. can work at least 3 hours a day
    (This regulation does not hold applicable as long as the child is under 3 years old)
  • In need of assistance, i.e. if you cannot sufficiently secure livelihood from your own resources.

ALG II (unemployment benefit II) is subordinated, i.e. all other achievements, e.g. maintenance and child benefit must be requested first. ALG II (unemployment benefit II) recipients are entitled to an appropriate accommodation and heating unit. Housing benefit cannot be acquired at the same time. For pregnant woman and mothers in need of assistance raising a child up to the age of 6, income and assets of their own parents may not be taken into consideration. Couples in cohabitation similar to marriage (including same-sex couples) and married couples form a 'community in need'. Special regulations hold applicable to persons under 25 years of age.

Application forms are available at the Employment Agency. Nowadays, there are many opinions as to what qualifies as a marriage-like community, which observes mutual financial responsibility in the sense of a 'community in need'. Many opinions to date tend to interpret it as a consensual community with a greater degree of mutual financial obligations than is often the case in employment agencies. The references mentioned here include the duration of the companionship and the will to stand up for each other: In 1995, the Federal Administrative Court ruled that not every sexual relationship is a ‘responsible community’.

In addition to the monthly costs of living, health insurance and benefits for accommodation and heating unit, pregnant women from the 13th week of pregnancy can apply for an additional requirement due to pregnancy amounting to 17% of the standard rate. In case of single parenting of one child under 7 years of age or 2 or 3 children under 16 years of age, an additional requirement for single parenting can be applied for.

You can also apply for one-shot benefits:

  • Initial equipment for the apartment
  • Initial equipment for clothing during pregnancy and childbirth
  • Multi-day school trips

These are not standard benefits and must always be applied for separately.

Consultation

There are a large number of consultation centres ready to assist you, should you have any specific questions and problems. The pregnancy counselling centres will help you find the one that is right for you, and they often also offer other counselling services themselves. Many daily newspapers regularly publish counselling services in their distribution zone. Information on counselling services can also be obtained from welfare associations and municipal, city and district administrations. The following list refers to counselling services, which are particularly often requested in connection with pregnancy:

  • Companionship, marriage, family and general life problems, also separation, divorce
    • Help with: Marriage, family and life counselling centres, pro familia
  • Educational difficulties, developmental disorders, relationship problems in the family
    • Help with: Counselling centres for children, adolescents and parents (educational and family counselling centres)
  • Debts
    • Help with: Credit counselling services
  • Violence in companionship / marriage / family
    • Help with: Women's shelters, child protection centres, telephonic consultation on emergency call and at counselling centres, crisis helpline
  • (feared) hereditary or prenatally debilitating disease or disability
    • Help with: Doctor’s office, pregnancy counselling centres, pro familia, human genetic counselling centres
  • health problems such as substance abuse, addiction, AIDS
    • Help with: Doctor’s office, counselling for substance abuse, addiction, AIDS
  • Rights and claims of foreigners
    • Help with: Consultation centres of the welfare associations like Arbeiterwohlfahrt, Caritas, Deutsches Rotes Kreuz, Diakonisches Werk, Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband (Workers' Welfare Association, Caritas, German Red Cross, Charitable work, Joint Welfare Association)

Federal Foundation Mother and Child

If requested before the birth, the Foundation will pay a one-shot amount for pregnancy clothes, initial equipment, etc. There is no legal entitlement to these funds. Any pregnant woman with a low income can apply for these funds. The application must be submitted before the birth at a recognised pregnancy counselling centre, in some federal states e.g. at pro familia counselling centres. Endowment fund may not be credited to the ALG II (unemployment benefit II).

Social assistance, for which there is no legal entitlement

If statutory social benefits are not effective or insufficient, you can apply for subsidies from various foundations and aid funds. Benefits are granted on the basis of income or in particularly difficult circumstances.

Federal and state foundations and aid funds

  • Aid from the Federal Foundation Mother and child - Protection of the unborn life
    • authority in charge: differs as per federal state
  • Aid from regional foundations ("Familie in Not” (family in need) or others); not in all states
    • authority in charge: differs as per federal state
  • Aid from the aid funds of municipalities and districts (only in some municipalities and districts)
    • authority in charge: differs as per municipality or district
  • Aid from church aid funds
    • authority in charge: church advisory boards
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