25.06.2021

Update: Special Corona Regulations (as of 01 July 2021)

What currently applies when I apply for unemployment benefit II ("Hartz IV") or supplementary child allowance?

authority 1448400 640With the social protection packages I to III and other regulations, the Bundestag has temporarily changed some aspects in the legal situation for recipients of basic income support for jobseekers ("Hartz IV"). Our  overview also shows how Corona emergency assistance is taken into account for Alg II (unemployment benefit II).

1. "Social Protection Package I to III"   
   1.1 Facilitated access to basic income support for job seekers
     - Assets
     - Accommodation and heating costs
     - Provisional decision
     - For the submission of applications
   1.2 Facilitated access to supplementary child allowance (KiZ)
   1.3 Free lunch also for home delivery

2. Benefits for underprivileged schoolchildren under the "DigitalPakt Schule" (School Digital Pact) 

3. Further changes in laws and regulations due to the Corona pandemic
   3.1 Corona bonuses for employees up to 1,500 euro not taken into account   
   3.2 Child bonus not taken into account
   3.3 November and December assistance and restart assistance for self-employed not taken into account as income
   3.4 One-off payment for persons in need to compensate additional Corona-related expenses
   3.5 So-called mask allowance is not taken into account
   3.6 One-off children's leisure bonus
   3.7 Facilitated access to learning support for schoolchildren

4. Special regulations for the Berlinpass and Berlin-Ticket S

5. Directives of the Federal Employment Agency
   5.1 Alg II while in quarantine?   
   5.2 Consideration of economic assistance for Alg II        
   5.3 No sanctions for Corona-related important reasons
   5.4 Placement support for self-employed persons and employees in short-time work who receive Alg II due to the pandemic

6. Applications and information on the Internet
     - About Alg II (unemployment benefit II)I
     - About supplementary child allowance

Download the article (German and English) 

1. "Social Protection Package I to III"

Due to the economic consequences of the Corona pandemic, the legislator has decided to temporarily facilitate access to benefits covering subsistence costs under the basic income support for jobseekers according to SGB (Social Code) II ("Hartz IV"). This is intended to enable, for example, small businesses, so-called solo self-employed persons and employees with short-time allowances who face income losses as a result of the Corona crisis, to obtain quick and unbureaucratic approval of unemployment benefit II (Alg II) from the job centres.

Access to the supplementary child allowance (KiZ), which families with low incomes can receive from the Familienkasse (institution responsible for child allowances) in addition to child allowance, has also been facilitated. The KiZ amounts to a maximum of 205 euro per month in the year 2021.

Temporarily, benefits from the basic income support for jobseekers and the child allowance are granted in some cases in derogation from the existing regulations.

The new regulations are part of the so-called Sozialschutz-Pakete (Social Protection Packages) of the Federal Government which includes the following changes:

1.1 Facilitated access to basic income support for job seekers

For persons whose Alg II appropriation notice starts in the period from 1 March 2020 to 31 December 2021 inclusive, regardless of whether it is an initial or subsequent appropriation, the following applies in accordance with Section 67 SGB II (Social Code).

  • Assets: For the first six months of the appropriation, a simplified procedure is applied for the inclusion of assets. As a rule, the verification of assets is limited to a declaration by the applicants that they do not have "substantial" assets. In the case of "substantial" assets, the extent to which the assets are to be taken into account is verified.

    According to the current directives of the Federal Employment Agency (see BA-Weisung, (directive of the Federal Employment Agency), no. 1.2), assets are considered "substantial" in accordance with the Housing Benefits Act (WoGG) if they exceed the maximum limits of 60,000 euro for the first and 30,000 euro for each additional member of the community of need (Bedarfsgemeinschaft (BG)). The total sum of the assets is compared to the total sum of the maximum limits of all members of the community of need. The assets to be used only include assets that can be used immediately, i.e. in particular cash and other liquid assets, such as current account deposits, overnight deposits, savings and securities accounts. Assets that are not available in the short term, such as endowment insurance policies, private pension insurance policies or owner-occupied residential property do not constitute "substantial" assets, regardless of their value.

    Further simplifications in asset verification are available according to the internal BA instructions for self-employed persons or formerly self-employed:

    Within the framework of the hardship provision under Section 12 par. 3 sentence 1 No. 6 SGB II (Social Code) assets which exceed the limits of "substantial" should be disregarded "to an appropriate extent" if, according to the declarations of the self-employed or formerly self-employed, they are intended for retirement provision. If "substantial" assets have been saved for retirement provision, we recommend that this should be pointed out when the application is submitted, preferably in writing.

    In principle, all types of assets should be accepted as retirement provision, unless the assets are obviously not used for retirement provision, e.g. deposits in overnight deposits or accounts from which "regular or repeated" withdrawals are made. A maximum of 8,000 euro per year of self-employment can thus be recognised as retirement provision. Claims already acquired from compulsory insurance policies for retirement insurance for self-employed persons, for example within the framework of a professional pension scheme or the social insurance for artists, reduce this maximum amount. 

    Persons who are or have been self-employed only on a sideline basis, the extent to which retirement assets are protected is to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

    In addition, the provision in Section 7 par. 1 Alg II-V (Employment Benefit II Regulation) on the non-consideration of business assets is to be interpreted generously by the job centres. This means that for the duration of the pandemic the business assets of self-employed persons will, as a general rule, not be taken into account if they serve the continuation of gainful employment. This applies accordingly to employees and trainees.

    After the grace period has expired, benefits will be paid in consideration of assets according to the usual rules (see Chapter 10 "How are assets taken into account" in the guidebook "Unemployment Benefit II in Berlin").

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  • Accommodation and heating costs: During the first six months of the appropriation period, housing costs are recognised at their actual level, even if the apartment is actually too expensive ("unreasonable") from the job centre's point of view. Exception: If only the "reasonable" housing costs were already covered by the job centre in the previous appropriation period, this will continue to apply.

    Only after the grace period has expired, the job centre may ask you to reduce your housing costs to the "reasonable" level within a period of further six months if your actual housing costs are higher than the "reasonable" costs. Benchmark for "reasonable" housing costs are the standard and limit values as well as surcharges and discounts according to the Berlin housing regulations (see detailed information in Chapter 5 section 3 " Needs for housing, heating and hot water" in the guidebook "Unemployment Benefit II in Berlin").

    The regulations on the costs for accommodation and heating from the social protection package for Berlin can be found in the circular Rundschreiben Soz Nr. 05/2020 of the Berlin Senate Administration for Integration, Labour and Social Affairs.

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  • Provisional decision: If a provisional decision is taken on benefits, for example for self-employed persons and persons with fluctuating or insecure income, the duration of the appropriation is now always six months.

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For persons whose Alg II approval was provisional and whose approval period begins in the period from 01 March 2020 to 31 March 2021, the following also applies:

The job centres do not make a final decision on benefit entitlement after the end of the six-month approval period - the original decision remains in effect. The provisional decision becomes final by operation of law one year after the end of the approval period. For provisional approval periods beginning on or after April 1, 2021, the job centre’s final decision will again be the normal case.

Irrespective of this, benefit recipients can always request a final decision, for example, if the projected profit has turned out to be lower than expected.

For the submission of applications:

It may be the case that you cannot apply for Alg II in person at your local Berlin job centre, as personal appointments are limited. However, the application can be made informally by telephone, e-mail or letter to the responsible job centre. A simplified Alg II application form can be submitted online.

In our view, the following points should be noted:

-- Proof: Make sure that you have proof that your application has been received by the job centre! In case of doubt, a simple letter post, e-mail or online application is not sufficient. You have the highest security if you send your application by registered mail. You can also put the application in an envelope in the presence of a witness and drop it in the job centre's mailbox. Or combine sending your application by letter post with sending it by fax (keep the transmission report!) or e-mail. When sending a copy by e-mail, you should write to the team mailbox and request a confirmation of receipt. In both cases, a note should be sent to indicate that the copy has been sent more than once, so that only one application is processed.

-- Simplified application: To facilitate the access to basic income support benefits, applicants can currently use a simplified application. You can obtain the application form and further information on Alg II on the website at https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/m/Corona-grundsicherung/ or at the download-center of the Federal Employment Agency.

Self-employed persons must also download the “Simplified annex for income from self-employment” (KAS annex) under the above link in order to provide abbreviated information on expected operating income and expenditure. If you are unclear what is included in the income and expenditure, you can use the previous annex EKS as a guide, which you can find at https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/formulare-a-z.

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1.2  Facilitated access to supplementary child allowance (KiZ)

The following special regulations apply for the "KiZ”:

-- For new and subsequent applications received by the Familienkasse (institution responsible for child allowances) in the period from 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2021, the regulations for a simplified asset assessment apply pursuant to Section 20 par. 6 BKGG (Federal Law on Family Allowances). Assets are - in deviation from the usual rules - only taken into account if they are "substantial". The maximum amounts apply as for basic income support for jobseekers (see "1.1 Facilitated access to basic income support for jobseekers). It is presumed that there are no substantial assets if applicants declare this in the application.

-- Approval periods starting before 1 July 2021 may exceptionally last more than six months if the processing of the application takes longer (Section 20 par.4 BKGG - Federal Law on Family Allowances).

Please note: Parents only receive the KiZ under certain conditions. You can find out what these conditions are in detail in our guidebook "Unemployment Benefit II in Berlin" in Chapter 15 "The supplementary child allowance - an alternative to Alg II and income support?".

You can use the interactive KiZ-Lotse  (KiZ pilot) of Familienkasse to check in advance whether you may get the KiZ based on your personal information and income.

In some cases, the condition that need for assistance according to SGB II (Social Code) is avoided is only fulfilled if housing benefits are also received. You can check your housing benefits entitlement with the housing benefits calculator of the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing: https://ssl.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de/wohnen/wohngeld/diwoformular.shtml.

The KiZ can be applied for online or in writing to the Familienkasse responsible for you.

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1.3 Free lunch also for home delivery

Children, adolescents and young adults under 25 years of age who attend a general and vocational school or visit a day care centre or for whom day care is provided and who receive Alg II, social assistance or KiZ are entitled to free lunch. According to the regulations in force up to now, the prerequisites were that a communal lunch was offered and - in the case of schoolchildren - that the meal was provided under the responsibility of the school or on the basis of a cooperation agreement between school and after-school care (Section 28 par. 6 SGB II (Social Code)). More on this in the section "Education and Participation (BuT)" in Chapter 7 of our guidebook "Unemployment Benefit II in Berlin".

As some schools and day care centres have to limit their operations due to the pandemic, the legislator has waived the condition of "communality" and the provision of lunch meals under school responsibility or on the basis of a cooperation agreement. That means: Lunch can also be temporarily delivered to the home of needy children or made available as a pick-up service. The corresponding expenses are to be borne by the Job Centers, even if, as a result of the pandemic, the cost per lunch for the communal lunch is higher than before, for example due to delivery costs.

The special regulation is to apply as long as the German Bundestag determines an epidemic situation of national significance. This is currently the case until 30 September 2021. A shortening of the period is possible by resolution of the Bundestag. If, on the other hand, the Bundestag extends the "epidemic situation of national significance" again, the special regulation will end on 31 December 2021 at the latest.

The legal basis for the new regulation is Section 68 SGB II (Social Code) for the basic income support for job seekers and Section 20 par. 7a BKGG (Federal Law on Family Allowances) for the KiZ.

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2. Benefits for underprivileged schoolchildren under the "DigitalPakt Schule" (School Digital Pact)

On 3 July 2020, the Federal Government and the federal states launched a "Sofortausstattungsprogramm" ("immediate equipment programme") for schools totalling 550 million euro as a supplement to the "DigitalPakt Schule" ("School Digital Pact") administrative agreement. The money is to be used to improve the EDP equipment in schools in order to offer schoolchildren online teaching opportunities for "learning at home". The programme also includes assistance for schoolchildren who have not been able to take part in digital lessons at home until now because, for example, they do not have a laptop, notebook or tablet at their disposal. The digital devices are lent out by the schools to the schoolchildren. The criteria for the distribution of the devices should be determined by the schools. Further information for the implementation can be found at https://www.berlin.de/sen/bildung/schule/digitale-schule/digitalpakt/.

On 21 September 2020, the Federal Government and the federal states also agreed that there should be a data flat rate for all schoolchildren for about ten euro per month. For those in need, the tariff is to be free of charge. Currently, the promised free Internet tariffs for disadvantaged students have not yet been implemented by politicians (see Tagesspiegel of 11 February 2021).

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3. Further changes in laws and regulations due to the Corona pandemic

3.1 Corona bonuses for employees up to 1,500 euro not taken into account

Special allowances which employees receive from their employers in the form of cash or non-cash benefits due to the Corona pandemic (so-called Corona bonuses) will not be taken into account as income in the calculation of Alg II, income support and supplementary child allowance for the period of 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2021 up to a total amount of 1,500 euro. According to the ordinance, the bonuses must be paid in addition to the agreed wage/salary and must be tax-free within the meaning of Section 3 No. 11a Einkommensteuergesetz (Income Tax Act). These can be, for example, corona bonuses for nursing staff in care facilities in accordance with Section 150a SGB XI (Social Code), in hospitals in accordance with Section 26a Krankenhausfinanzierungsgesetz (KHG – Hospital Funding Act), other corresponding benefits from federal or government budgets, or goods vouchers for employees in retail.

The exemption from the income crediting is regulated in Section 1 par. 1 No. 10 Arbeitslosengeld II/Sozialgeld-Verordnung - Unemployment Benefit II/Social Allowance Ordinance.

Bonuses that exceed the maximum limit of 1,500 euros in the above-mentioned period are treated as income from employment - before crediting to Alg II, an allowance for gainful employment in particular may be deducted if necessary. You can find out more about the tax-free allowance for gainful employment in Chapter 9 of our guidebook "Unemployment Benefit II in Berlin" under section 2 "Income from gainful employment".

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3.2 Child bonus not taken into account

In the Corona crisis, many families are supported by the Federal Government by a so-called one-off child bonus amounting to 150 euro per child. The bonus is intended to benefit families who are exposed to particular burdens during the pandemic. For higher earners, the bonus is offset against the child tax allowance.

The child bonus is available for every child for whom there is a claim to child benefit for at least one month in 2021. The bonus is usually paid by the Familienkasse in May in addition to the child benefit. The families do not have to apply for the benefit.

The special payment - similar to the child bonus in the amount of 300 euro in the year 2020 - is not taken into account for social benefits the payment of which depends on other income, in particular Alg II/income support, child allowance, advance maintenance payments and housing benefit. 

The legal basis for this regulation is Section 66 par. 1 sentence 2 and 3 Einkommensteuergesetz (Income Tax Act) and Section 6 par. 3 Bundeskindergeldgesetz (Child Benefit Act). The exemption from the income crediting is regulated in the "Act on the Non-Crediting and Non-Consideration of the Child Bonus".

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3.3 November and December assistance and restart assistance for self-employed not taken into account as income

Companies, solo self-employed persons and freelancers who directly or indirectly suffer a loss of income as a result of the closure of businesses and facilities in November and December 2020 may receive extraordinary economic support from the Federal Government upon application. In accordance with Section 1 par. 1 No. 13 Alg II-V, the so-called November- und Dezemberhilfen (November and December assistance) is not to be taken into account as income for Alg II and social benefits and therefore also not to be taken into account for the supplementary child allowance (KiZ).

The” Neustarthilfe "(restart assistance) granted under the federal program "Überbrückungshilfe III" (bridging assistance III) is also not to be taken into account as income “ (Section 1 par. 1 No. 14 Alg II-V). The "Neustarthilfe” (restart assistance) is particularly intended for self-employed artists, cultural workers and other solo self-employed persons who have to accept a drop in sales due to the Corona pandemic, but who cannot claim any fixed costs under the "Überbrückungshilfe" (bridging assistance).

According to Section 3 par. 1a Alg II-V, the "Neustarthilfe" (restart assistance) of the Federal Government also does not count as operating income within the meaning of the Alg II/Social Allowance Ordinance. This means: Unlike, for example, the "Corona-Soforthilfe” (Corona emergency assistance) and/or the "Überbrückungshilfe” (bridging assistance) of the Federal Government, the "Neustarthilfe” (restart assistance) funded by the Federal Government may not be offset against operating expenses. More information on the consideration of federal "Soforthilfe” (emergency assistance)", "Überbrückungshilfe” (bridging assistance) and “November- und Dezemberhilfen” (November and December assistance) on the operating expenses can be found under item 5.2 in this information leaflet.

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3.4 One-off payment for persons in need to compensate additional Corona-related expenses

Benefit recipients who receive Alg II or social benefits according to the standard needs levels 1 (2021: 446 euros per month) or 2 (2021: 401 euros) will receive a one-off non-creditable cash amount of 150 euro from the Job Center in addition to their basic income benefits if they are entitled to benefits for the month of May 2021 (Section 70 SGB II – Social Code). Eligible recipients are single persons, single parents and partners of full age in communities of need.

Alg II and income support recipients in standard needs level 3 (2021: 357 euro), for example children between the ages of 18 and 24 who live in a community of need with their parents, also receive the one-off payment if no child benefit is taken into account as income for you in the month of May. The background to the regulation is that for children for whom there is an entitlement to child benefit, the payment of a child bonus (see 3.2) is provided for in the same amount.

The regulation is part of the so-called Social Protection Package III. The one-off payment is intended as compensation for the additional expenses in connection with the Corona pandemic in the 1st half of 2021. Proof of specific additional expenses is not required.

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3.5 So-called mask allowance is not taken into account

Financial subsidies for hygiene or health articles in connection with the Corona pandemic ("mask allowance"), which are granted by the federal states or the Federal Government, are not to be taken into account as income (Section 1 par. 1 No. 15 Alg II-V). Hygiene or health articles include, for example, medical masks, disinfectants or smaller everyday medical devices such as fever thermometers. The regulation applies to persons in receipt of Alg II, income support or supplementary child allowance (KiZ).

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3.6 One-off children's leisure bonus

Families receive a children's leisure bonus of 100 euros per minor child one-time if the child is entitled to Alg II or social benefits in the month of August 2021 (Sect. 71 par. 2 SGB (Social Code II)) or receives supplementary child allowance (KiZ) (Sect. 6d BKGG - Child Benefit Act). The bonus is intended to cushion the consequences of the pandemic-related restrictions for children and young people and to support families in taking advantage of leisure activities and making up for missed opportunities.

Families who receive SGB II benefits or supplementary child allowance (KiZ) do not have to submit a separate application to the Job Center or the Familienkasse to receive the bonus. The bonus is granted as a lump sum. It is not necessary to prove that the funds have been used for the intended purpose.

If, exceptionally, Alg II or social benefits are paid for children in addition to the supplementary child allowance (KiZ), the children's leisure bonus is provided by the Familienkasse. In this case, the bonus paid by the Familienkasse may not be offset against the Alg II or social benefits (Sect. 6d par. 2 BKGG- Child Benefit Act). If a child lives in two needs groups due to the separation of his or her parents, only the needs group that receives the child benefit receives the bonus for the child.

Families whose underage children receive housing benefit, social assistance under Chapter 3 of Book XII of the Social Code (assistance for subsistence) or asylum seeker benefits in August 2021 can also receive the children's leisure bonus - in the case of housing benefit and social assistance, the bonus must be applied for separately.

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3.7 Facilitated access to learning support for schoolchildren

The restrictions on schooling during the Corona pandemic have hindered many schoolchildren in their learning progress. In many cases, additional learning support (tutoring) is therefore likely to be necessary.

In order to facilitate access to necessary learning support (Sect. 28 par. 5 SGB (Social Code II)), for example, for schoolchildren from families receiving Alg II, social benefit or supplementary child allowance, no separate application to the competent Job Center or district housing office is necessary in the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 December 2023 - in deviation from Sect. 37 par. 1 (2) SGB (Social Code II) - in order to receive benefits for learning support. The application for benefits for necessary learning support is included in the application for Alg II, social benefit or supplementary child allowance during this period (Sect. 71 par. 1 SGB (Social Code) II; Sect. 6b BKGG – Child Benefit Act).

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4. Special regulations for the Berlinpass and Berlin-Ticket S

Among other things, the berlinpass gives recipients of basic income support benefits or housing allowance reduced-price access to cultural, educational, sports and leisure activities. With the berlinpass, these people also receive the Berlin-Ticket S at 27.50 euro per month for travel on public transport within Berlin (fare zone AB).

The following regulations apply temporarily:

"Due to Corona-related restrictions, Bürgerämter (citizen offices) did not reissue or renew berlinpasses from March 2020 until January 2021.

Beginning in February 2021, berlinpasess will again be issued by Bürgerämter in stages. Eligible persons who receive benefits for the first time or again as of March 2021 can apply for a berlinpass. The application and issuance of berlinpasses will take place exclusively by mail. For more information, see the services database.

If the benefit period began before March 1, 2021, a new berlinpass cannot yet be applied for. In this case, the berlinpass that expired in the period from March 2020 will continue to be valid for the time being. The purchase of the Berlin-Ticket S is also possible with an expired berlinpass. In these cases, the berlinpass number can be entered on the Berlin-Ticket S without any changes. The presentation of a current benefit statement is not required in this case.

Eligible persons who are not yet in possession of a berlinpass must carry the original benefit statement with them and enter their community of need number, file number, or housing allowance number on the Berlin-Ticket S.

This deviating procedure also applies to the use of private and government offers in the areas of sports, leisure, culture and education. To use the discounted or free admission, the expired berlinpass (if available) and a copy of the currently valid benefit statement must be presented.

The procedure is limited until 31 December 2021.”

(Source: https://www.berlin.de/sen/soziales/soziale-sicherung/berlinpass/)

Please note: This special regulation does not apply to the berlinpass-BuT. The berlinpass-BuT for children, adolescents and young adults who receive benefits within the framework of the Bildungs- und Teilhabepaket (education and participation package) will continue to be extended or reissued by the responsible benefits office.

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5. Directives of the Federal Employment Agency

The Federal Employment Agency (BA) has issued internal regulations for Alg II recipients in directives related to the Corona pandemic, which concern the implementation of legal provisions in practice. The directives reflect the BA's legal opinion on individual legal norms and are binding for the employees of the BA and the Job Centers, which are operated as joint facilities by the municipalities and the local employment agency. BA regulations in connection with the pandemic include, among others:

5.1 Alg II while in quarantine?

Persons who are in a quarantine, usually a domestic quarantine, ordered by the district health authorities because of illness or suspected illness with the COVID-19 pathogen, continue to receive benefits from the basic income support for job seekers (see BA-Weisung (directive of the Federal Employment Agency) no. 2.12.1). In these cases there is basically no exclusion of benefits according to Section 7 par. 4 SGB II (Social Code), since neither a stay in an "inpatient facility" nor a stay in a "facility for the execution of judicially ordered deprivation of liberty (detention)" exists.

If it is not possible for these persons to submit requested documents or other evidence, decisions can also be taken provisionally by the Job Centers (see BA-Weisung (directive of the Federal Employment Agency) no. 2.7, paragraph 5).

If a domestic quarantine is required after returning from an approved vacation ("absence from home"), this alone does not result in the loss of entitlement to benefits. Entitlement to benefits should also continue as long as beneficiaries are prevented from leaving the vacation country, for example due to a proven quarantine, and a return home is not possible. However, once the reason for the hindrance has ceased to exist, the beneficiary must return home promptly (BA-Weisung, (directive of the Federal Employment Agency) no. 2.11).

Beneficiaries who do not adhere to the isolation measures ordered by the authorities can be forcibly accommodated in a closed part of a hospital or in another closed facility by court order in accordance with the Infection Protection Act. "Such a judicially ordered quarantine measure constitutes a benefit exclusion according to Section 7 paragraph 4 sentence 2 SGB II (Social Code)"  (see BA-Weisung (directive of the Federal Employment Agency) no 2.12.2). The exclusion from benefits then applies from the first day of accommodation.

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5.2 Consideration of economic assistance for Alg II

The Federal Government and the federal states provide economic assistance to smaller companies, solo self-employed and freelancers to cushion financial impacts of Corona pandemic. In principle, the assistance is provided as non-repayable subsidies. The extent to which these are then taken into account in the calculation of Alg II depends in particular on the purpose of the financial assistance.

According to the directives of the Federal Employment Agency (see BA-Weisung (directive of the Federal Employment Agency) no. 2.4), the "Corona Soforthilfe"  (Corona emergency assistance), which was paid by the Federal Government in March 2020 and the subsequent "Überbrückungshilfe I,II und III" (bridging assistance I,II and III) of the Federal Government are so-called earmarked revenues.

The prerequisite for this is that this subsidy is provided on the basis of a public law provision for a purpose other than Alg II (Section 11a par. 3 sentence 1 SGB II (Social Code)). This is the case with the Federal Government's Corona Emergency assistance and the bridging assistances: As a general rule, the subsidies are intended to cover the anticipated operating expenses for three or five months - expressly but not the applicants' living costs or accommodation costs. If it later turns out that the material and financial expenses of the operation or the actual loss of revenue was lower after all and the subsidies were not needed to cover the operating expenses to the extent predicted, applicants are obliged to repay the overpaid amounts.

As earmarked revenue, economic assistance is only taken into account by Job Centers as operating revenue to the extent that they serve to cover operating expenses. Specifically, the economic assistance is compared to the operating expenses from the months for which the assistance is granted.

[Note: These directives leave many questions unanswered. They also assume that earmarked income always reduces operating expenses in full. This seems questionable to us. After all, some operating expenses were not eligible at all in the vast majority of Corona assistance, for example, most capital expenditures. In our opinion, the crediting of earmarked income should therefore be limited to those parts of the operating expenses for which the subsidy was granted].

According to the directive, the following procedure should be followed:

First of all, the operating expenses are to be covered by the Corona assistance. This results in two possibilities:

-- Corona assistance covers or exceeds actual operating expenses: In this case, the part of the Corona assistance that exceeds the operating expenses is not counted as income. However, any additional income from the business that is no longer needed to cover operating expenses will be counted as income, minus exemption and deduction amounts.

-- Corona assistance is less than the actual operating expenses: In this case, only the operating expenses exceeding the Corona assistance are deducted from existing operating income. In the profit calculated from this, exemptions and deductions according to SGB II (Social Code) must also be taken into account.

The same procedure is to be applied for the “Novemberhilfe” (November assistance) and the “Dezemberhilfe” (December assistance) (see BA-Weisung (directive of the Federal Employment Agency) no. 2.4.2).

You can find out which exemption and deduction amounts can be deducted from operating income, as well as further details on the imputation procedure for self-employment, in our guidebook "Unemployment Benefit II in Berlin" in Chapter 9 under section 3 "Income from self-employment".

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5.3 No sanctions for Corona-related important reasons

With the return to "normality" and the gradual opening of employment services to the public, Job Centers are increasingly sending out registration requests, placement "proposals" and referrals to employment promotion measures with legal consequences.

Legal consequence instructions are an important prerequisite for Job Centers to be able to impose reductions in benefits, i.e. sanctions, in the case of failure to response on a registration request (Section 32 SGB II (Social Code)) or refusal of placement offers or other breaches of duty (Section 31 SGB II (Social Code)). You can find out more about the requirements as well as the duration and extent of sanctions in Chapter 12 of our guidebook "Unemployment Benefit II in Berlin".

Sanctions may not be imposed if beneficiaries can give an important reason for their behaviour, for example demonstrating that they were unable to attend a registration appointment at the Job Center.

According to the Federal Employment Agency (see BA-Weisung, (directive of the Employment Agency directive) no. 2.13), important reasons are in particular given due to the Corona pandemic if beneficiaries can prove or credibly demonstrate at the hearing or in the appeal proceedings that

  • they have been quarantined,
  • the care of their children was not assured, for example because of the closure of day-care centres or schools, or
  • they belong to a so-called risk group due to health restrictions The instructions here refer to Information of the Robert Koch Institute, in which, for example, people aged 50 to 60 years and older with one or more pre-existing underlying diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or diseases of the respiratory system are identified as a risk group.

Any health risks posed by the use of public transport must also be taken into account.

The assessment of whether there is an important reason depends on the circumstances of the individual case.

Even before sending registration requests or job offers to the "customers" or prior to concluding integration agreements (Eingliederungsvereinbarungen), the Job Centers should check whether corresponding requests and offers are reasonable, especially with regard to the situation of risk groups. Case workers should therefore contact the "customers" in advance by telephone if necessary.

If face-to-face interviews (Section 24 SGB X (Social Code)) are not possible at the Job Center due to the Corona pandemic, the BA directive states that reporting failures or breaches of duty are not to be sanctioned. Reason: Without the possibility of personal appointments, it could happen that important reasons or unreasonable hardships are not sufficiently asserted by beneficiaries.

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5.4 Placement support for self-employed persons and employees in short-time work who receive Alg II due to the pandemic

Employees who are on short-time work due to the Corona pandemic and are therefore dependent on Alg II should not be placed in work or provided with placement support until they resume their work. The same applies to self-employed persons who have to restrict their work due to the Corona pandemic and are expected to be able to resume their work after the pandemic-related restrictions have ceased (see BA-Weisung, (directive of the Employment Agency), no. 2.14). [Note: Experience from our counselling practice shows that this directive is not always implemented in this way].

However, these persons may wish to be placed in work themselves. In that case, funding is also possible. For example, self-employed persons who resume their activity and whose self-employment is assessed as viable can receive non-cash subsidies or loans (Section 16c SGB II (Social Code)) from the Job Center.

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6. Applications and information on the Internet

About Alg II (unemployment benefit II)

-- Simplified Alg II application and annex KAS
https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/download-center
(With leaflet and instructions for filling out the Alg II/social assistance application. Please note: The instructions for completing the form do not refer to the simplified application, but to the regular Alg II application).

-- Further annexes to the Alg II application
https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/formulare-a-z

-- Alg II with simplified online application
https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/m/Corona-grundsicherung/

-- Information on the "Basic income support" for job seekers provided by the Federal Employment Agency
https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/Corona-faq-grundsicherung

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About supplementary child allowance

-- KiZ-Lotse (KiZ pilot)
https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/familie-und-kinder/kiz-lotse
(Here you can use an interactive video to check in advance whether you are potentially entitled to KiZ).

-- Apply for supplementary child allowance online
https://con.arbeitsagentur.de/prod/kiz/ui/einstieg
or
https://familienportal.de/familienportal/rechner-antraege/kiz-digital

-- Alternative: The application documents for the KiZ as hardcopy
https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/familie-und-kinder/downloads-kindergeld-kinderzuschlag#1478810749346
(including leaflet and instructions for filling out the KiZ application)

-- Information on the supplementary child allowance (KiZ)
https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/familie-und-kinder/kinderzuschlag-anspruch-hoehe-dauer
https://familienportal.de/familienportal/familienleistungen/kinderzuschlag

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Download the article

-- German (PDF, 303 KB): Ergänzungen zum Ratgeber "Arbeitslosengeld II in Berlin" in Corona-Zeiten (Stand: 1. Juli 2021)

-- English (PDF, 274 KB): Supplementary information on the guidebook "Unemployment Benefit II in Berlin" in Corona times (as of 01 July 2021)

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