Needy people in Germany will be entitled to a new benefit, the Bürgergeld (citizen’s allowance, civic benefit), from the new year. However, this support is subject to certain requirements and obligations. Who will be entitled to it and on what principles, you will find out in the article below.
From 2022 onwards. The Bürgergeld is to replace the previous social unemployment benefit, better known as Hartz IV, and is to be available to those in need. This state welfare, which the SPD, Greens and FDP have long planned for in their party programs, is to be a basic income.
First and foremost, attention is paid to the needs of the applicant
.The payment of the new benefit is linked to certain conditions. The most important is the existence of an adequate “need”. The citizenship benefit is to be collectible after the benefits of the unemployment benefit I. In addition, assets and type of housing become relevant to the payment of the benefit only after a two-year reference period.
Specifically, three preconditions are listed: ability to work, residence in Germany, and need for assistance. People who are at least 15 years old but still below the standard retirement age will be entitled to the benefit. Those who, due to illness or disability, are not incapable of working in the foreseeable future for at least three hours a day under normal conditions in the general labor market are considered able to work. In other words, regardless of the exact work task. The retirement insurance company decides whether someone is able to work.
People who live in a household with an employable beneficiary will also be eligible for the new benefit. Examples include spouses or life partners, as well as children. Thus, citizens who are unable to work may also be eligible for the benefit – but then simpler conditions apply.
In addition, the applicant for the citizenship benefit must be habitually resident in Germany. And so we come to the need for assistance: this means that people cannot or can only inadequately provide for themselves from the income or assets to be taken into account, and have no help from relatives or other social benefit providers – this includes housing benefit or child benefit.
Therefore, people who are employed can be counted as needy. The same applies to those receiving unemployment I benefits.
Citizen’s allowance is not available for long hospital stays or rehabilitation periods
A person is not eligible for benefits if he or she is “out of the area close in time and place” without prior arrangement with a contact person and, as a result, is unable to take any work that would be offered to him or her by an employment office. The same applies to citizens who are “accommodated in a stationary facility,” explains the “buerger-geld.org” website. Examples are prisoners or people who are in the hospital for a long time – in these cases, however, the citizen’s allowance can be granted under appropriate conditions. Exceptions are rehabilitation or hospital stays of less than six months, and the same applies to convicts working unsupervised during the day.
Modified, simplified requirements apply to people who have reached the legal retirement age or whose anticipated disability exceeds six months. It also applies if someone is receiving a pension, miners’ compensation benefit, or similar benefit under public law that is sufficient to support them.
The aforementioned rules also apply to foreigners
The rules listed above apply not only to German citizens but also to foreigners. However, the entitlement to benefits does not apply to those foreigners who do not have a place of residence or habitual residence in Germany – for example, tourists or seasonal workers – do not have and cannot obtain a work permit, are not engaged in gainful employment or the right of residence has been granted solely for the purpose of seeking work – in this case, family members are not entitled to benefits either.
Recognized asylum seekers, on the other hand, are entitled to benefits. Similarly, foreigners who can legally work with the approval of the Employment Agency. For foreign family members, there is a “blockade” period for the first three months of their stay in Germany – unless they have a residence permit for international, humanitarian or political reasons.
Applying for citizenship allowance also possible online
Citizenship allowance is granted only on application. The application must be submitted to the relevant authority – usually a municipality, city or town hall. The place of residence is important here; in the case of homelessness, the actual place of residence matters.
It should be sufficient to submit an informal application, e.g. by e-mail or via the relevant authority’s website, or verbally in the office. The portal “buerger-geld.org” advises to use a registered letter to be able to prove the exact time of the application. However, it should be noted that it only has a very limited retroactive effect, so the citizen’s income must be applied for in good time. The decision will then be served by notice, and the appeal period is one month.
Citizen’s Allowance will generally be granted for a period of six months to one year. If an application is to be made for a longer period, another application must be made. If the benefit is not claimed for an entire month, payment is made on a per-day basis, always assuming 30 days per month.
The amount is transferred to the account provided in the application. However, you can also request payment by check, in which case additional costs may be deducted.
Bürgergeld 2022 for living expenses, accommodation costs and for persons in shared households
This benefit includes a portion for living expenses, a portion for housing expenses, and a portion that takes into account other people living with the applicant in a community of property. The amount of the citizenship allowance depends on the income and property situation.
With the Bürgergeld, the federal government also aims to build a relationship of trust between citizens and the administration. To this end, the strengths and development needs of people are to be highlighted by means of a competence determination procedure. This includes soft skills.
The offers and steps determined in this way are recorded in a participation agreement for a period of six months. After six months, they can be modified and adapted to the new situation. In the meantime, the beneficiary of the benefit could take part in training courses and broaden his skills. The citizen’s obligations to cooperate are also stipulated in the participation agreement.
People who are able to work are expected to accept any kind of work that is suited to their abilities. This means that the person must be physically, mentally, or emotionally able to do so, and the new duties must not jeopardize the raising of their child or their partner’s child and must not “interfere” with the care of a close family member. No other compelling reason must prevent the activity. Generally, the citizen benefit recipient must prove that there are reasons why he or she is unable to take the job.
As mentioned, there is also a duty to cooperate. It applies not only to the applicant, but also to certain third groups of people listed in the law. It also applies to citizens who have a duty to pay maintenance to the applicant – failure to cooperate and provide information to the employment office about maintenance may result in a fine or the possibility of claiming damages.
In certain situations, sanctions are also possible for breach of obligations towards the recipient of the Bürgergeld – the reduction of cash benefits has been mentioned here.
Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) speaks of a “fundamental change of course in social policy, a major social reform.” The new system is “more focused on pulling people out of unemployment in the long term.” His promise is: “If you have to use the Bürgergeld, we will support you with all means to get you out of unemployment in the long term and no longer have to worry about losing your housing.”