Coronavirus: State Aid

Das Bild zeigt einen Mann auf einer Straße in einer großen Stadt. Er zieht hinter sich einen orangen Einkaufstrolley und trägt eine FFP-Schutzmaske.
Update 04.08.2022

Which state aids are available for me?

The world has been in a state of uncertainty due to the ongoing corona pandemic. The livelihoods of many have been massively impacted by the pandemic. Many workers have already lost their jobs or are put on short-time working. Self-employed, freelancers & entrepreneurs receive fewer orders or none at all - or have to close. Here you can find out what forms of state aid are available to you during the pandemic. 

What do I need to know?

What can I do if I am dismissed or earning little to no income?

If you make little or no wages, you are entitled to unemployment benefits under certain conditions. There are two different types of unemployment benefits: Unemployment benefit I (ALG 1) and unemployment benefit II (ALG 2).

Unemployment Benefit I (Arbeitslosengeld I)

You will only receive Unemployment Benefit I if you have had a job entailing compulsory social insurance contributions in Germany for at least 12 months in the past 24 months, i.e. you have contributed to unemployment insurance. You can apply for Unemployment Benefit I directly at the Employment Agency responsible for you. Since January 2022, you can also register yourself as jobseeker online. In the event of dismissal, the employee in charge will provide you with the necessary information. To learn more, check out our chapter "Termination of the Employment Contract".

Unemployment benefit II (Arbeitslosengeld/Hartz 4)

To benefit from unemployment benefit II, on the other hand, you do not need to have contributed to unemployment insurance for 12 months. Unemployment benefit II (also called "Hartz 4" or "ALG 2") is basic substance income provided by the Jobcenter. This basic income includes money for personal livelihood, i.e. for food, clothing, hygiene items, etc. Under the Unemployment Benefit II scheme, a single adult currently receives €449 per month (as of 2022). Depending on their ages, you will receive between €285 and €376 per month for each child. Moreover, the rental costs -i.e., the net rent, additional charges and heating costs - are also taken over by the Job Centre.

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 "Retiring in Germany".
  • Your primary place of residence must be in Germany.
  • You must be ready to work, i.e. you should be, generally speaking, 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 worked in Germany before.

Please note: Asylum seekers and people with a Tolerated Stay Permit ("Duldung") can benefit from asylum seekers benefits - they are not entitled to Unemployment Benefit II.

To apply for Unemployment Benefit II, first, you need to call the Jobcentre and register yourself as unemployed or apply for an additional benefit ("Aufstockung"). Informing the Jobcenter per phone is crucial since you will receive benefits retrospectively from the time you register by telephone. You can find the Jobcentre responsible for you at  www.arbeitsagentur.de. The rest you need to do online: On the website of the Jobcentre responsible for you, find and click on "Zum ersten Mal Arbeitslosengeld II (2)". Then click on "Antrag auf Arbeitslosengeld II (2)" to register. There you will find the "Application for unemployment benefit II (2)"- this 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 Jobcenter responsible for you.

The Jobcentre will then process your application and let you know if you will receive Unemployment Benefit II. In some cases, applicants may be asked to fill out additional forms. The Jobcenter will let you know if that is the case. 

The specified application forms are often not easy to understand. At kub-berlin.org, you will find the essential application forms translated into various 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 Jobcenter.

Please note: Currently, the Jobcentre will not inquire about the size of your flat or whether your rent is too high. They do not ask about the applicants' assets, either. This exceptional measure applies to approval periods beginning before December 31, 2022. You can submit a simplified application at www.arbeitsagentur.de.

 

Can I apply for extra money at Jobcenter due to the Corona crisis?

There is currently no possibility of extra payments from the Jobcenter. The one-time payment of the so-called "Hartz-4-Bonus" in the amount of €150 has been completed. The scheme for free delivery of FFP2 masks has also been concluded.

If you need to ask for more money from the Jobcenter, you have the following options:

  • You can request an early withdrawal of up to €100. Then you get €100 less the month after.
  • You can apply for a loan from the Jobcenter. But you have to pay it back later. For this purpose, 10% of your unemployment benefit will be deducted every month until the loan is paid off.

Important: If you are registered with the Jobcenter and your child needs a laptop or alike to study, you can apply for a grant from the Jobcenter for the purchase. They will pay up to €350 per child. You can use the grant to buy a laptop, tablet, printer, etc. The purchased product must be necessary for your child's homeschooling. The Jobcenter requires a letter from the school confirming the purchase is necessary. You can find a sample of this letter as well as the grant application for the Jobcenter at tacheles-sozialhilfe.de. Please note: You can also apply for the mentioned grant if you have already bought a laptop or a similar device since January 2021. There is also the possibility of receiving a grant to buy a laptop, etc. for homeschooling children for parents who earn very little or those who receive money from the Social Welfare Office. You can find out more about this in our chapter "Coronavirus - Public Life".

Important: There are always rumours going around regarding Jobcentre paying extra money (upon request) due to the Coronavirus crisis. Many apply for such, providing preparation for home quarantine and the need to spend more on food or the necessity of a healthier diet as justification. These requests, however, get rejected. 

I am a student and lost my part-time job. Is there any help for me?

Until September 2021, students could apply for and receive a so-called „Überbrückungshilfe” every month. However, the programme has not been extended.

Other than that, there is no specific financial provision for students who have lost their jobs due to the corona pandemic. In principle, students cannot receive short-time work benefit or unemployment benefits. But due to the extraordinary situation at hand, an exception has been made. As of now:

  • Part-time students, i.e. students who previously were employed in a job (subject to social security contributions) for more than 20 hours per week, can receive short-time work benefits or unemployment benefits. 
  • Students who cannot receive BAföG and have lost their income can apply for unemployment benefit at the Jobcentre. In principle, you have to apply for a leave semester, but you do not need to do so at the time being. However, you presumably have to pay back the money you receive from the Jobcentre later. Please note: You cannot receive benefits from the Jobcentre if you reside in Germany with a student visa.

If you urgently need money:

  • Ask your student union. Many student unions have set up so-called hardship funds or loan funds to help students in urgent times.
  • Besides, Students can also receive a loan of €650 per month from KfW. You will have to pay the money back later, however, no interest applies until 30 September 2022. Those who have a student visa can also apply for this loan. To find out more, check kfw.de.
  • Many companies are currently looking for additional employees. Ask food delivery services, supermarkets, petrol stations, etc. in your area if they have vacancies. You can learn more about job opportunities for students in our chapter “Student Jobs”.

Please note: Students who receive BAföG do not have to worry about extending their funding beyond the maximum funding period due to cancelled exams. Call your BAföG office and explain your situation to the staff. 

You can find more information on the subject of corona and student life at studentenwerke.de.

I am self-employed and have (practically) no income. What can I do?

The government has various aid programmes for business people- programmes which are continuously developing to fit the needs. Here you can learn about the existing aid schemes and what you need to do to benefit from them. 

Apply for Interim Aid ("Überbrückungshilfe")

The first, second and third phase of Interim Aid, i.e. "Uberbrückungshilfe" I, II, III and III Plus has ended. 

Since January 2022, the new “Überbrückungshilfe IV“ has been introduced. Applications for this interim aid (which is to cover January to June 2022) can be submitted until June 15, 2022.

Keep in mind that applications can only be submitted by a tax advisor, auditor or sworn accountant - So you cannot apply for it on your own. 

Important: Solo self-employed can apply for and receive a so-called "restart aid" (“Neustarthilfe”) of up to €7,500 once. The “Neustarthilfe 2022 April-June” has been introduced in April 2022. You can personally submit your application (i.e., you do not require a tax consultant to apply). The application deadline is June 15, 2022. Visit ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de to submit your application.

You can find out more about the requirements and regulations of the Interim Aid and “Neustarthilfe” in German, English, Turkish, and Polish at wir-gruenden-in-Deutschland.de. In case you have questions, you can contact IQ Fachstelle Migrantenökonomie in your federal state - their staff speak different languages.

More information is available at ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de (in German).

 

Apply for hardship aid ("Härtefallhilfe ")

The hardship aid is intended to support companies that cannot be supported through other aid programmes and are in financial need due to the corona pandemic.

The hardship aid was extended in some federal states until the end of June 2022. In these federal states, you can still submit applications for the entire support period (November 2020 to June 2022) until:

  • Baden-Württemberg: June 15, 2022
  • Bavaria: June 15, 2022
  • Brandenburg: June 15, 2022
  • Bremen: May 15, 2022
  • Hamburg: June 15, 2022
  • Hesse: June 30, 2022
  • Lower Saxony: May 31, 2022
  • North Rhine-Westphalia: June 15, 2022
  • Rhineland-Palatinate: June 15, 2022
  • Saarland: June 15, 2022
  • Saxony-Anhalt: June 15, 2022
  • Schleswig-Holstein: June 15, 2022

Affected companies should be supported with fixed costs. Each federal state will determine regulations and requirements individually. An overview of the requirements is available (in German) at haertefallhilfen.de. If you have any questions, you can contact the staff of IQ Fachstelle Migrantenökonomie in your state. The staff speak many languages.

 

Apply for Unemployment Benefit II (Hartz 4)

The self-employed and freelancers are also entitled to unemployment benefit II if they meet the requirements. You can read about the requirements in the section "What do I do if I am fired or hardly earn anything?". You do not have to give up your self-employment while you are receiving benefits from the Jobcentre- that means you can remain self-employed. You can submit the application on the website of the Employment Agency. You can also submit a simplified application for approval periods beginning on December 31, 2022 or before.

These (German) Forms are often not easy to understand, but on kub-berlin.org, you will find the most important one of them translated into various languages. You can use these forms to better understand the German ones. Please note, however, that you must send the German version to the Jobcentre at the end.

 

Apply for short-time benefit (“Kurzarbeit”)

If your company has to close due to the coronavirus or can only continue to work at a limited capacity, you can apply for "short-time work" at the Federal Employment Agency. Short-time work means that all or some of the employees work less or do not work at all. However, they remain employed by your company and continue to receive part of their wages: the so-called "short-time work benefit". The short-time work benefit is paid for a period of up to 24 months and amounts to 60% or 67% of the net salary. If the working hours of your employees are reduced by at least 50 per cent, they will receive more short-time work benefits after 4 or 7 months: After 4 months of short-time work, the short-time work benefit will increase to 70% or 77% of the net salary. From the 7th month onwards, your employees will receive 80 or 87% of their net salary. These regulations currently apply until June 30, 2022.

The short-time work benefit is paid for by the Federal Employment Agency and is intended to protect against dismissals due to operational reasons. You can apply for short-time work benefit at arbeitsagentur.de.

 

Apply for Tax Relief

If you are experiencing financial difficulties because of the Corona pandemic, you can have your tax prepayments ("Vorauszahlung") adjusted. You can also ask for a so-called "Stundung", which will give you more time to pay your existing tax liabilities. Talk to your tax advisor about your options.

Corona-related losses this year can be offset against last year's profits, i.e. the recorded profit from last year will decrease - and as a result, businesses and companies can get back some of the taxes they paid last year. This scheme is known as a "tax loss carry back" ("steuerlicher Verlustrücktrag")- and, compared to applying for state aid, it provides companies and businesses with liquidity much faster.  

 

Apply for Credit (expired)

Until April 2022, companies with more than ten employees could apply for a so-called KfW immediate loan ("KfW-Schnellkredit"). KfW immediate loan is not a grant, but a loan through which you can pay running costs and make essential purchases. Contrary to other loans, applying for KfW immediate loan is pretty straightforward. Meeting the formal requirements (mentioned below) suffices to qualify for this loan. The credit is 100% secured by the government, which means the banks face no risk- and you can receive the money swiftly.

The maximum amount of money you can receive in the framework of "KfW-Schnellkredit" is 25% of your annual turnover from 2019. Companies with up to 50 employees get a maximum of €500,000. Companies with more than 50 employees receive a maximum of €800,000. The companies which receive the loan will have ten years to repay.

What types of support are available for families?

“Kinderzuschlag”: Families with low income can also obtain a monthly child benefit ("Kinderzuschlag" or KiZ) of up to €209 per child. Whether you can receive KiZ and its amount depends on several factors - above all, your income, housing costs, the size of the family and the age of the children. For example, a family with two children and monthly rent (including heating) of €1,000 will be entitled to KiZ if the total gross income of the household is around €1,600 to €3,300. Those who receive "Kinderzuschlag" are also exempt from daycare fees - and can apply for additional benefits for education and participation purposes.

You can check whether you are entitled to the "Kinderzuschlag" by visiting KiZ guide of the Family Fund Office ("Familienkasse"). You can also apply online on the website of the Employment Agency

“Kinder-Bonus”: In 2020, the federal government started to provide families entitled to child benefits with a child bonus amounting to €300. The payment was made in 2 instalments between September and December 2020.

The child bonus 2021 was €150 per child. It was not paid out together with the child benefit, but rather as a separate payment. You did not have to submit an application- the money was transferred directly to bank accounts. You can find more information on the website of the employment agency.

„Familien-Bonus”: Because of the corona pandemic, all families who receive unemployment benefits II (Hartz IV), housing benefits, asylum seeker benefits or child allowance received a one-time payment of €100 per child as "Family Bonus". The money was intended to facilitate children's access to sports and leisure activities. It was transferred automatically to banks accounts, in August or September 2021- i.e. there was no need to apply for it.

Child Sickness Benefit (Kinderkrankengeld): If the school or daycare centre is closed due to the pandemic and the parents are therefore unable to work, they can receive the so-called "child sickness benefit" for a certain number of days. You can find out more in our chapter "Coronavirus & Work".

Compensation (Entschädigung):  Parents who are unable to work due to childcare are entitled to compensation under certain circumstances. Read more in our chapter "Coronavirus & Work".

I cannot pay my rent. What shall I do?

If you were not able to pay your rent due to financial problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic between April and June 2020, legally speaking, your landlord could not ask you to evacuate the flat. The ban on evacuation, however, has not been extended, meaning since July 2020, rents are to be paid as usual. You need to settle the unpaid rent (for April, May and June 2020) within the next 24 months, i.e., at the latest by June 30, 2022. If you do not pay the due rent by then, your landlord can demand you to evacuate.

If you currently cannot pay your rent due to the Corona pandemic, you can ask your landlord for more time. They are not obliged to accept, but many landlords understand the challenging situation and agree to a later payment of rent. 

PLEASE NOTE: The same applies to rental business venues.

I can no longer pay my bills. What shall I do?

If you were unable to pay your bills (e.g., phone, electricity and gas bills, or monthly insurance contributions) between April and June 2020, there is no need to worry. Customers can postpone these specific bills and settle them later. The regulation, however, does not apply anymore, i.e., since July 2020 bills are to be paid in due time. If you cannot pay your bills, contact the counselling centre of Verbrauchzentrale as soon as possible.

The same applies to loans (between April and June 2020)- but now you have to pay instalments in due time again. If you cannot, contact your bank. 

Does getting benefits from the state put me at risk of losing my residence permit?

Some residence permits are issued when individuals prove their livelihood in Germany is going to be secured without any state benefits. That includes residence permits issued to students, trainees and skilled workers.

However, you can benefit from the following forms of support without jeopardizing your right of residence:

  • Short-time work allowance ("Kurzarbeitgeld")
  • unemployment benefit I
  • Child benefits (" Kinderzuschlag")
  • parental allowance 
  • BaföG
  • Vocational training allowance / BAB
  • Advance on maintenance ("Unterhaltsvorschuss")
  • Emergency aid for the self-employed ("Soforthilfe für Selbständige")
  • Housing benefit, given even without it, you are not entitled to Hartz IV or subsistence income ("Grundsicherung ") in old age and the event of reduced earning capacity.

 

However, if you qualify for the following state benefits, your right of residence is at risk:

  • Unemployment benefit II / Hartz IV / benefits for subsistence according to SGB II
  • Basic security in old age and in the case of reduced earning capacity according to SGB XII
  • Help for living expenses according to SGB XII
  • Benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act
  • Benefits to ensure livelihood according to SGB VIII for stationary youth welfare
  • Housing benefit, if it is the only reason you are not entitled to Hartz IV or subsistence income ("Grundsicherung ") in old age and the event of reduced earning capacity.

Please note: It does not matter whether you actually apply for or obtain the benefit. Being only theoretically entitled to it is sufficient to put your right of residence at risk. If your financial difficulties have to do with the Corona pandemic, the Immigration Office can extend your residence permit despite your livelihood not being secured. But that is a decision for the proper Immigration Office to make. 

Important

If you suspect that you are infected, contact the Germany-wide patient helpline by dialling 116117. They will let you know about the next steps. Please do not go to the doctor's office before first calling them. 

Partner-Logos EN

A Project by:
Funded by: