Update: Special Corona Regulations (as of 24 March 2022)

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

authority 1448400 640With the social protection packages 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"   
   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)   

2. Further changes in laws and regulations due to the Corona pandemic
   2.1 Corona bonuses for employees up to 1,500 euro not taken into account   
   2.2 Restart assistance (Federal Government) for self-employed not taken into account as income
   2.3 Facilitated access to learning support for schoolchildren

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

4. Directives of the Federal Employment Agency
   4.1 Alg II while in quarantine?   
   4.2 Consideration of economic assistance for Alg II
   4.3 No sanctions for Corona-related important reasons
   4.4 Placement support for self-employed persons and employees in short-time work who receive Alg II due to the pandemic

5. 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"

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 as wells as employees with short-time allowances and other salaried employees 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 for each eligible child amounts to a maximum of 209 euro per month in the year 2022.

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 Dezember 2022 inclusive, regardless of whether it is an initial or subsequent appropriation, the following applies in accordance with Section 67 SGB II (Social Code) in conjunction with the relevant Verlängerungsverordnung  (extension ordinance).

  • 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.

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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 an appropriation period before the Corona pandemic, 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 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 Alg II application form can be submitted online.

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. If you do not receive an acknowledgement of receipt for online applications, ask your Job Center for an acknowledgement of receipt. You have the highest security if you send your application by registered mail.

-- No simplified application forms: In order to facilitate access to basic income benefits, applicants could previously use the form "Simplified Application for Unemployment Benefit II" (VA) and self-employed persons could additionally use the "Simplified Annex for Income from Self-Employment" (Annex KAS). The Federal Employment Agency has announced that, as a rule, the regular forms "Main Application for Unemployment Benefit II" and "Annex for Income from Self-Employment (EKS)" will be used again for applications from 1 April 2022 (see BA-Weisung - directive of the Federal Employment Agency, p. 2 and no. 1.3.2).

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1.2  Facilitated access to supplementary child allowance (KiZ)

The following special regulation applies for the "KiZ”:

For new and subsequent approvals of KiZ commencing at the Familienkasse (institution responsible for child allowances) between 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2022, the regulations for a simplified asset assessment apply pursuant to Section 20 par. 6 BKGG (Federal Law on Family Allowances) in conjunction with the aforementioned Verlängerungsverordnung  (extension ordinance). 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.

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

2.1 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 31 March 2022 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, cash bonuses or goods vouchers for employees.

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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2.2 Restart assistance (Federal Government) for self-employed not taken into account

The "Neustarthilfe" (restart assistance) granted under the federal program "Überbrückungshilfe III" (bridging assistance III) is 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, and who cannot claim any or only few 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. According to the instructions of the Federal Employment Agency (BA-Weisung, directive of the Unemployment Agency, no. 2.4.2 paragraph 3), this also applies to the subsidies with the same content that follow the restart assistance within the bridging assistance of the federal government. This means: Unlike, for example, the "Corona-Soforthilfe" (Corona emergency assistance), the "Überbrückungshilfen" (bridging assistance) and the "November- und Dezemberhilfen" (November and December assistance) (2020) of the Federal Government, the "Neustarthilfe" (restart assistance) may not be offset against operating expenses. The Federal Government's restart assistance is thus available to the beneficiaries in full in addition to the benefits under Social Code II and does not affect the amount of Alg II.

In the meantime, the Federal Government has extended the funding under the "Neustarthilfe" (restart assistance) programme beyond 30 June 2021 until 31 December 2021. Whether the same applies to "Neustarthilfe Plus" (restart assistance plus) as to "Neustarthilfe" (restart assistance) with regard to eligibility for social benefits has not yet been conclusively clarified.

The "Neustarthilfe Berlin" (restart assistance Berlin) is a supplement of the Land Berlin to the Federal Government's "Neustarthilfe"(restart assistance). Legally, it has not yet been clarified whether the "Neustarthilfe Berlin"(restart assistance Berlin), like the Federal Government's "Neustarthilfe" (restart assistance), is not taken into account at all when calculating Alg II and supplementary child allowance or whether the subsidy may be offset against existing operating expenses as income earmarked for a specific purpose - as is the case with the Federal Government's "Überbrückungshilfe" (bridging assistance) (see item 4.2 in this information leaflet).

For information on the consideration of "bridging assistance" and "November and December assistance" from the Federal Government for operating expenses, please refer to number 4.2 in these notes.

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2.3 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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3. 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 30 June 2022.”

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

By 30 June 2022, the Berlin-Pass in its current form will be discontinued. From 1 July 2022, there will be a new proof of entitlement, the so-called Berechtigungsnachweis (proof of eligibility), which entitles the holder to purchase the Berlin-Ticket-S. The new proof of eligibility is then to be sent automatically to those entitled to benefits by the benefits office (e.g. Job Center) when the benefit is approved. Further information can be found e.g. in the Dienstleistungsdatenbank (service database).

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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4. 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:

4.1 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).

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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4.2 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, III und III Plus " (bridging assistance I,II III, III plus and IV) 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 a defined period - 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 Corona emergency assistance programmes granted at the beginning of the pandemic (spring/summer 2020), 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. Whether notices that are incorrect in this respect can still be contested with a chance of success must be verified in each individual case].

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) granted to cushion revenue losses due to the temporary closure of establishments and facilities for November and December 2020 (BA-Weisung (directive of the Federal Employment Agency) no. 2.4.2).

In deviation from the previously described procedure, the Neustarthilfe (restart assistance) along with their identical follow-up programmes under the bridging assistance from the Federal Government (see 2.2 in this leaflet) are not taken into account in the operating income and expenditure.

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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4.3 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. However, requests to report are to be sent out without instructions on the legal consequences if Job Centers still have temporary 2G (vaccinated and/or recovered) regulations for access to their facilities.

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. However, requests to report for telephone appointments are not sanctionable, as Sect. 309 para. 1 (1) SGB III (Social Code III) stipulates the obligation to "appear".

Insofar as 2G (vaccinated, recovered) regulations apply in the federal states for the attendance of integration measures, reductions due to non-attendance or discontinuation of the measure are excluded due to 2G (vaccinated, recovered) requirements.

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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4.4 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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5. Applications and information on the Internet

About Alg II (unemployment benefit II)

-- Alg II application and annex EKS

(With leaflet and instructions for filling out the Alg II/social assistance application.) 

-- Information on the "Basic income support" for job seekers provided by the Federal Employment Agency


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About supplementary child allowance

-- KiZ-Lotse (KiZ pilot)
(Here you can use an interactive video to check in advance whether you are potentially entitled to KiZ).

-- Apply for supplementary child allowance online

-- Alternative: The application documents for the KiZ as hardcopy
(including leaflet and instructions for filling out the KiZ application)

-- Information on the supplementary child allowance (KiZ)

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Download the article

-- German (PDF, 280 KB): Ergänzungen zum Ratgeber "Arbeitslosengeld II in Berlin" in Corona-Zeiten (Stand: 24. März 2022)

-- English (PDF, 250 KB): Supplementary information on the guidebook "Unemployment Benefit II in Berlin" in Corona times (as of 24 March 2022)

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