Citizen's benefit is a state welfare benefit. It is paid when people have no income or do not earn enough money to support themselves and their dependents. In this context, the Jobcenters refer to this as a “community of need” (Bedarfsgemeinschaft).
Who is eligible for citizen's benefit
The basic requirements apply:
- positiv:You or members of your community of need are in need of assistance.
- positiv:You are capable of working.
- positiv:You are at least 15 years old and have not yet reached the age limit for your pension.
- positiv:You live in Germany and have the centre of life here.
Tipp:You are less than 15 years old or you cannot work for health reasons: In this case, you are eligible to receive citizen’s benefit if you live in a community of need with persons who fulfil the requirements.
Other requirements for people from abroad
If you do not have German citizenship, additional requirements apply:
- positiv:You are from a country which is part of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland: You were previously employed in Germany and lost your job through no fault of your own.
- positiv:You are from another country (third countries): Your residence status determines whether you are eligible to receive citizen’s benefit.
Those who are not eligible for citizen's benefit
You are not eligible for citizen’s benefit, if you ...
- negativ:are not legally a resident of Germany.
- negativ:receive financial assistance under the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act.
- negativ:have only come to Germany to look for a job.
Citizen's benefit is composed as follows
Citizen's benefit is paid monthly. It is calculated individually and consists of several parts:
Standard support requirement
The “standard support requirement” (Regelbedarf) refers to the fixed-rate amounts with which you can cover your daily living costs. These include, for example, expenses for food, clothing and electricity.
The exact amount depends, among others, on how old you are and whether you live alone or with other people.
The current standard support requirements are available on the website of the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs: Basic income support for job-seekers
Tipp:Good to know: If you receive citizen’s benefit, you are automatically enrolled in the statutory health insurance and care insurance system.
In addition to the standard support requirement, the Jobcenter pays for your heating and accommodation, for example the rent for your apartment. Condition: The costs are reasonable. The extent to which costs are “reasonable” depends on where you live.
Wichtig:Important: It is necessary for you to agree a move to a new apartment with your Jobcenter before you sign a new lease.
In the case of special circumstances, you are eligible to receive a supplement to your standard support requirement. This may be paid, for example, if you are a single parent or you are pregnant.
One-off financial assistance is also available, if you are furnishing your own apartment or you are pregnant and need to buy things for your child, for example.
Tipp:Good to know: Children, adolescents and young adults are eligible to receive “benefits for education and participation”. These include, for example, grants for school-related needs or for the membership of a sports club.
Applying for citizen's benefit
You must apply for citizen’s benefit at your responsible Jobcenter.
- You can obtain the application form free of charge from your Jobcenter. Alternatively, you can download the form here: Application for Citizen's benefit (German)
- Fill out the application form. Instructions on filling out the form and an interactive explanatory video are available which explain the application process to you.
- Hand in the completed application form at your responsible Jobcenter. You can find the address of your Jobcenter with the Jobcenter search: Find Jobcenter
- Once your application has been reviewed, you will receive a written response from the Jobcenter by mail (technical term: decision [Bescheid]).
Wichtig:Important: If you receive Unemployment Benefit II, you are required to fulfil certain obligations. Learn more about the question: What are my obligations if I receive citizen's benefit?
Advice from the Jobcenter
In addition to financial security, the Jobcenter offers you comprehensive advice and support. The objective is for you to be able to support yourself again as soon as possible and on a permanent basis. We support you by encouraging you and helping to find offers for you regarding your job search.
You are welcome to raise the following topics in your consultation:
- finding a suitable job in Germany.
- the possibility of receiving financial assistance for job applications.
- a language course if you have limited knowledge of German.
- embarking on an apprenticeship, if you are interested in one.
Make an appointment with your Jobcenter. To find out which Jobcenter is responsible for you, use the Jobcenter search at the bottom of the page.
If you do not speak German or only speak it poorly
If you have little or no knowledge of German, you can still make an appointment with us. You have the following options:
- Take a person with you whom you trust and who is able to translate for you.
- When making an appointment, say that you need an interpreter. We will then initiate all of the further steps.