If you earn little or no money, you are entitled to unemployment benefits under certain conditions. There are two different types of unemployment benefit: Unemployment benefit I and unemployment benefit II. You will only receive unemployment benefit I if you have had a job including compulsorily social insurance contributions in Germany for at least 12 months in the past 24 months, i.e. you have paid into unemployment insurance. You can apply for unemployment benefit I directly at the Employment Agency responsible for you. Your staff in charge will provide you with the necessary information in the event of dismissal. You can find out more about dismissal in our chapter "Termination of the Employment Contract".
To benefit from unemployment benefit II, on the other hand, you do not need to have paid unemployment insurance for 12 months. Unemployment benefit II (also called "Hartz 4" or "ALG 2") is basic substance income provided by the Jobcentre for applicants' livelihood, i.e. for food, clothing, hygiene, etc. A single adult currently receives 432 euros per month as unemployment benefit II. Depending on their ages, you will receive between 250 and 354 euro per month for your children. In addition, the rental costs -i.e. the net rent, additional costs and heating costs- are also taken over by the Jobcentre.
To benefit from unemployment benefit II, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be at least 15 years old.
- You must not be retired yet. You can find out more in our chapter "Pensioners in Germany".
- Your primary place of residence must be in Germany.
- You must be ready to work, i.e. you should be, in principle, capable of working.
- You must have little to no income.
- You must be either a person entitled to asylum, refugee status or subsidiary protection or have German citizenship or have citizenship of an EU country and had been working in Germany.
Please note: Asylum seekers and people with a tolerated stay ("Duldung") are granted asylum seeker benefits- they are not entitled to unemployment benefit II.
First of all, call the Jobcentre and register as unemployed or to apply for an additional benefit ("Aufstockung"). Informing Jobcentre per phone is crucial since you will receive benefits retrospectively from the time you register by telephone. Then visit www.arbeitsagentur.de, and enter your postcode to find the Jobcentre responsible for you. The rest you need to do online: On the website of the Jobcentre responsible for you, find and click on "Zum erstmal Antrag Arbeitslosengeld II (2)". Then click on "Antrag auf Arbeitslosengeld II (2)" to register. There you will find the "Application for unemployment benefit II (2)", which is the MAIN APPLICATION FORM you need to fill out.
To clarify your income, you also have to fill in the "Anlage zur Einkommensbescheinigung," i.e. the appendix to the certificate of income, which you can find under "Arbeitslosengeld 2 - Anlagen zum Einkommen und Vermögen". If you are unemployed and have no income, you can enter "zero euro" as income. When you are employed, your employer has to fill out the "Income Certificate Form" ("Formular zur Einkommensbescheinigung ").
If you are self-employed, fill out the form "Anlage zum Einkommen Selbständiger". You do NOT have to fill the "Anlage zum Vermögen" as of now. You need to send the filled out (main) application form and the certificate of income, to the Jobcentre per email. You can find the email address on the website of the Jobcentre responsible for you.
The Jobcentre will then process your application and contact you. They will also let you know if you need to fill out any additional forms. After you have sent all the necessary documents to the Jobcentre, you will be informed whether you entitled to receive ALG II.
Forms you find on Jobcentres' website are often not easy to understand. At kub-berlin.org, you will find the necessary application forms translated into many languages- use these forms to understand the German forms better. Please note, however, that you have to fill out and send the original German version to the Jobcentre.
Please note: The Jobcentre will not inquire about the size of your apartment or whether your rent is too high. They do not ask about the applicants' assets either. Such extraordinary regulation applies for six months.