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Questions & Answers

Who is eligible, when and how much?

Who is entitled to receive Unemployment Benefit II (basic security benefit for jobseekers)? How do you apply? Find answers to commonly asked questions on Unemployment Benefit II below:

In order to receive Unemployment Benefit II, applicants need to satisfy the following criteria:

  • You must be between 15 and 65 years old (below standard retirement age).
  • Your primary place of residence is in Germany.
  • You are capable of working, meaning you are able to work at least three hours each day.
  • You need assistance, meaning you are currently not able to secure your own livelihood (or that of your family) through your own income and/or assets.

In principle, every person in need of assistance can apply for Unemployment Benefit II. Eligibility doesn’t depend on whether the person is unemployed or employed.

Questions & Answers

  • Which financial support is available?

    Unemployment Benefit II includes a normal requirement for personal sustenance. At present (since January 2022), single adults are entitled to a normal requirement of EUR 449 per month. Children receive between EUR 285 and EUR 276 depending on their age. The normal requirement is also calculated based on factors such as whether other people (eligible for benefits) live in the same household, for example. Rental costs (basic rent, bills and heating costs), health and long-term care insurance along with additional requirements may also be covered.

    Click here to find out more information on how the benefits are made up.

  • How can I submit an application?

    You can submit your application for Unemployment Benefit II online, by email or by mail. Please use our form or send us an initial informal application. You can also drop off your application in the letterbox at your local office.

    The Jobcenter office in charge of your case is determined by your residential address. Use our office search to find out which Jobcenter office is responsible for you.

    Step-by-step guide to submitting a new application: click here to find out how to get in touch with us, which forms you need to complete and which documents need to be submitted.

    The explanatory video Submitting an application for Unemployment Benefit II takes you through the application process for Unemployment Benefit II.


    All key information on the basic security benefit is included in the Unemployment Benefit II/Social Security Benefits info sheet.

  • Which documentation do I need to submit?

    Fill out the application for Unemployment Benefit II and enclose copies of all relevant additional information and documents. Step-by-step guide to submitting a new application – read more about the documents you need to submit here.

    Self-employed people are requirement to submit the appendix “Einkommen Selbstständiger” (EKS) (income declaration for self-employed persons). Do you have any other questions? Give us a call. Click here to find the phone hotline for your local office.

  • I achieve a varied amount of income each month. Can benefits be provisionally approved?

    Yes, that is possible.

  • Does the income earned by my partner count?

    Yes, if you live together with your partner in a household, you form a benefits community (Bedarfsgemeinschaft/BG) and jointly contribute to your household.

  • Will the benefits cover my housing costs? Is there an upper limit?

    The benefits will cover your basic rent, bills and heating costs. During the first six months of receiving benefits, costs for rent and heating are recognised at their actual amount.

  • Are my children also eligible for financial assistance?

    Yes. Depending on their age, the normal requirement, i.e. social security benefit, granted is between EUR 285 to EUR 376. Child benefit for the respective child is taken into account and factored in as ‘income’ when calculating the benefit amounts. More information on child benefit can be found on the page Understanding child benefit.

  • How long does it take for benefits to be paid?

    The quicker you submit all required documents, the sooner we will be able to process your application and pay benefits. If you have any specific questions related to payment, please call the phone hotline for your local office directly.

  • When will I receive the benefits?

    Once your application for benefits has been approved, they will always be paid one calendar day before the month of entitlement. Example: Your benefits for the month of April will be paid at the end of march.

  • Which additional financial support is available?

    A variety of different social security benefits are available, for instance, child benefit, housing benefit or child allowance. Some of these benefits cannot be claimed at the same time as Supplementary Unemployment Benefit II.

    More information on child benefit can be found on the page Understanding child benefit.

    All important information on child allowance can be found on the page Understanding child allowance.

    Find more information on how or where to apply for housing benefit on the City of Hamburg website.

  • I am self-employed and currently experiencing a loss in income/sales. When am I entitled to support?

    All persons with inadequate or no funds at their disposal to secure their livelihood may be entitled to claim Unemployment Benefit II. If you and your family (members of your benefits community), where applicable, do not have any or adequate funds at your/their disposal to secure your livelihood, you may be entitled to claim Unemployment Benefit II. This also applies to the Self-employed and freelancers.

  • Do I need to stop being self-employed?

    No. You can continue being self-employed.

  • Will the costs for my office (rent, bills, leasing rate, etc.) be covered? Does Jobcenter also pay for my operating overheads?

    No, Jobcenter is only responsible for securing your personal livelihood. If you have business expenses, these reduce the income used to calculate your normal requirement. This may mean you are entitled to claim more.

    Note: Liquidity assistance is regarded as operating income.

  • I employ people. What can I offer them?

    If you have employees who are currently experiencing a loss of work or pay, you can apply for the short-time work allowance on their behalf.

    In addition to the short-time work allowance, your employees can also submit their own applications to receive Unemployment Benefit II, housing benefit and other social security benefits. Employers are likewise able to apply for benefits

  • I receive the short-term work allowance but it isn’t enough to secure the livelihoods of myself and my family. Am I entitled to receive Unemployment Benefit II?

    You are still entitled to apply for other social security benefits such as Unemployment Benefit II, housing benefit or child allowance even if you receive the short-term work allowance.

  • Recent changes in the law have temporarily simplified access to Unemployment Benefit II. What does this entail?

    If your benefits are first granted between 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2022, and your assets are not considered substantial, the asset check will not take place during the first 6 months.

    During the first six months of receiving benefits, costs for rent and heating are recognised at their actual amount. (Source: Federal Employment Agency)

  • Do I need to use all my savings before I’m eligible to receive Unemployment Benefit II?

    The asset check within the first 6 months is only waived if you are not in possession of considerable available assets. Available assets include, for example, cash and available balances in current accounts, savings accounts and jewellery, shares or life insurance policies.

    If the first member of your benefits community is in possession of available assets exceeding EUR 60,000, your benefits community is not entitled to claim Unemployment Benefit II. An upper limit of EUR 30,000 applies for each additional member.

    As owner-occupied residential properties are not considered available assets, they are not accounted for as considerable assets.

    Assets used to obtain a pension (endowment policies and annuity insurances) are likewise not regarded as considerable assets. The above applies regardless of the asset value.

    (Source: Federal Employment Agency)

  • Do I need to register and verify my identity in person in order to use the e-service?

    No. If you already receive benefits, you can register for our e-service by giving us a call. If you register online, you’ll receive a PIN in the mail to activate your account. Once you have received your PIN, you can give us a call to activate your account.

  • Can I visit the office in person for a face-to-face meeting?

    In-person meetings can only take place if organised by phone and in compliance with the applicable hygiene rules.

    We are still available to help – on the phone, by e-mail or by mail. You are also welcome to use our e-service to continue receiving your benefits or notify us of any changes.

  • Do I need to let the Jobcenter know if I plan to travel?

    Any planned travel must first be reviewed and approved by the Jobcenter as you won’t be reachable for the period you are not at your usual place of residence (and may not be able to take part in a suitable training course, for instance).

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