Hilfe zum Lebensunterhalt (Sozialhilfe) Unfortunately this specification of service has not yet been completely translated.

If your income or assets are not sufficient for your necessary subsistence, you will receive assistance for subsistence (social assistance) under certain conditions.

As a rule, you will receive help towards living costs as a social welfare benefit if you are in need of assistance and are not or no longer able to work:

  • Neither the basic security for job seekers (Hartz IV),
  • nor the basic income support in old age and in case of reduced earning capacity.

Children under 15 years of age receive social assistance if they:

  • Live together with persons who receive assistance for living (usually with the parents) and
  • cannot ensure their livelihood despite being entitled to maintenance.

The benefits of the help for living include:

  • the lump-sum standard rate to ensure subsistence, for example for food, clothing or personal hygiene. If parents or one parent live together with their child or children in a flat, a separate standard rate is set for each family member. This amounts in 2019 for:
    • Adults: EUR 424.00,
    • Spouse, civil partner, partner in a marriage-like community: EUR 382.00,
    • children under 6 years of age: EUR 245.00,
    • children aged 6 to under 14: EUR 302.00 and
    • Adolescents aged 14 to under 18 years: EUR 322.00.
  • Education and participation benefits for children and young people, for example for:
    • School trips,
    • personal school supplies,
    • school tickets,
    • supplementary learning support,
    • school lunches or
    • club fees, music lessons and the like.
  • Needs for accommodation and heating in the amount of your actual rent and heating costs.
  • In exceptional cases, assumption of debts for:
    • Avoidance of homelessness,
    • securing your accommodation or
    • to remedy a comparable emergency, e.g. debts to the energy supplier.
  • Needs for contributions to your health and long-term care insurance and, under certain conditions, for your old-age provision.

In addition to your standard rate, you can also receive benefits for additional subsistence needs. You can claim these additional needs if you:

  • Have reached your retirement age and meet the requirements for a severely disabled person's ID card with the mark "G" (walking disability),
  • have not yet reached retirement age, but meet the requirements for a severely disabled person's ID card with the mark "G" and are not able to work according to pension law,
  • are an expectant mother from the 13th week of pregnancy,
  • are a single parent,
  • have reached the age of 15, are disabled and receive assistance for appropriate schooling or training within the framework of integration assistance, or
  • are dependent on a special diet due to a serious illness, which leads to higher costs than a "normal" diet.

If you do not live alone, the Social Welfare Office will include the entire family income to determine your need for assistance. This involves taking into account the income of all family members living together in the same home, for example:

  • Earned income,
  • alimony and
  • pension income.

Child benefit paid for minors and any maintenance payments for a child are to be attributed to that child to cover his or her needs.

Certain assets are considered to be exempt assets, for example:

  • Small amounts of cash (financial assets per adult: EUR 5,000) or.
  • an appropriate house property.

These are not included in the calculation of benefits.

Except in a few exceptional cases, you will not receive benefits for past periods.

  • valid identity card or passport, confirmation of registration if applicable
  • Proof of a temporary full reduction in earning capacity in the form of pension notice or medical certificates
  • Proof of income, e.g. pension, sickness benefit, child benefit, alimony payments or advance alimony payments
  • Proof of assets, for example savings
  • Tenancy agreement and subsequent changes, in particular with regard to the amount of rent
  • Evidence of expenses, in addition to the amount of rent and rent payments, in particular advance payments and statements for ancillary costs and heating costs, documents on insurance contributions
  • Proof of health and nursing care insurance, i.e. information on health insurance fund and insurance status or contract on private health and nursing care insurance.

Please note: The extent of the documents required, especially for proof of income and assets, depends on the individual case. Your local social welfare office may request further documents from you, for example current bank statements, divorce decrees or maintenance titles.

Forms: can be obtained from your social welfare office

Online procedure possible: no

Written form required: no

Personal appearance necessary: yes


  • They are in need of assistance and unable to work because they are temporarily fully incapacitated for work:
    • You are in need of assistance if you are unable to fully cover your living expenses from your own resources and strength.
    • You are temporarily fully incapacitated if you are not able to work regularly for at least 3 hours a day under the usual conditions of the general labour market for the foreseeable future (more than 6 months).
  • They do not receive:
    • Basic income support for job-seekers (Hartz IV),
    • basic benefits for old age and reduced earning capacity or
    • Basic benefits for asylum seekers.

Related Links

  • § 27 - 40 Zwölftes Buch Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB XII)

You must apply for assistance with living costs in person.

  • Arrange a counselling interview at your local social welfare office. Take all the necessary documents with you to this meeting.
  • Fill in the application for assistance with living costs during the counselling interview.
  • The social welfare office must decide on your application and inform you of the result. This is done by means of a decision, which is usually sent to you by letter.
  • If your application is approved, you will receive a notice of approval; if it is rejected, you will receive a notice of rejection.
  • In both cases, the notification must contain the reasons for the decision and information about the possibility of appealing against it. It must also contain information about the time limit within which you can lodge an appeal.
  • The decision must state the amount of the benefit to be paid and the date on which payment is to begin. From this date, the Social Security Office will transfer the money to your account at the beginning of each month. You can also specify the account of a third party for the transfer.
  • Attention: You are obliged to inform your social welfare office immediately of any changes in your income and financial circumstances.

Note: If you do not have an account, you will receive the benefits by money order for settlement. You will have to bear the costs arising from this yourself. If you can prove that it is impossible for you to open a bank account through no fault of your own, the Social Welfare Office will pay the costs. Cash payment by cheque is not possible.

Responsible for the content
Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS)

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