Coronavirus: State Aid
Which state aids are available for me?
Our working condition is still affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the government has been trying to support specific professionals and businesses to help them survive. Here you can find out what forms of state aid are available to you.
What do I need to know?
If you make little or no wages, you are entitled to unemployment benefits or “Bürgergeld” under certain conditions.
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".
“Bürgergeld” is a basic income paid by the Jobcenter. In the past, it was called “unemployment benefit II” (“Arbeitslosengeld II“) or “Hartz IV”. Such basic income is designated to provide the recipients with funds to cover their basic needs; i.e., to be able to pay for food, clothing, hygiene items, electricity costs, bus and train tickets, etc. for themselves and their family. In the “Bürgergeld” scheme, single adults can receive €502 per month, married couples €451 per person and children €318 to €420, depending on their age (as of 2023). The Jobcenter also covers the rent and heating costs for recipients of the “Bürgergeld”. However, the heating costs are only covered up to a certain amount.
You can learn more about “Bürgergeld” and the Jobcenter in our Jobcenter chapter.
Please note: Currently, the Jobcenter 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 which begin or are extended up until December 31, 2022. You can submit a simplified application at www.arbeitsagentur.de.
No, there is currently no possibility of extra payments from the Jobcenter. 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 www.jobcenter-ge.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.
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 there are some exceptions:
- 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 benefits at the Jobcentre. In principle, you have to apply for a leave semester. You also 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– and since October 1, 2022, you also have to pay an interest for this loan. 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 employees. Check with food delivery services, supermarkets, petrol stations, etc. in your area whether 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. If you have a part-time job in an area that is very important to combating the pandemic, your income will not be counted towards your BAFöG. This means that you will continue to receive the same amount of BAFöG.
You can find more information on the subject of corona and student life at the Youth website of the German Federation of Trade Unions.
There had been various aid programmes for business people- but most have already expired. Here you can learn about the existing aid schemes and what you need to do to benefit from them.
The self-employed and freelancers are also entitled to “Bürgergeld” 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 learn more in our chapter Jobcenter.
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 12 months and amounts to 60% or 67% of the net salary (for employees with children).
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. If you applied for short-time work benefits by June 30, 2022, under certain conditions, your employees' short-time work benefits will increase. You can find out more at arbeitsgaentur.de.
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. The "Stundung“ or deferral rule is valid until September 30, 2022 but only for taxes that you had to pay until March 30, 2022. Talk to your tax advisor about your options.
COVID-related losses of the current and next year can be offset against the profits from the past two years, 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.
“Kinderzuschlag”: Families with low income can also obtain a monthly child benefit ("Kinderzuschlag" or KiZ) of up to €229 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 €1,900 will be entitled to KiZ if the household's total gross income is around €1,900 to €4,100. 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”: For the year 2022, the federal government has again decided on a child bonus of €100 per child to be paid to Families who receive child benefit. The payout for 2022 started in July 2022 and will run until the end of 2022.
The child bonus 2021 is 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.
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. "Child sickness benefit" equals 90 per cent of your net income. You can find out more in our chapter "Coronavirus & Work".
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
- 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 "Bürgergeld" 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:
- “Bürgergeld”/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 “Bürgergeld” 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.
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.